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.The all-star roster must include Hattie McDaniel, Ethel Waters, Tim Tueth's 103-216 9/28/04 11:28 AM Page 176176 Laughter in the Living Room|Moore, Eddie  Rochester Anderson, Diahann Carroll, Redd Foxx, ShermanHemsley, Isabel Sanford, Flip Wilson, Jimmie Walker, Gary Coleman, Em-manuel Lewis, Nell Carter, Robert Guillaume, Marla Gibbs, Eddie Murphy,Esther Rolle, Will Smith, Bill Cosby, Phylicia Rashad, Charles Dutton, Mar-tin Lawrence, Queen Latifah, LL Cool J, Chris Rock, The Wayans Brothers,Arsenio Hall, Bernie Mac, and many others.Some of them had brief careerson the small screen, while others changed the face of television and thecountry forever.Many of them were awarded Emmys and Golden Globesfor their performances.Many have also enjoyed distinguished careers in thea-ter, film, and music.All of them have triumphed over obstacles of prejudiceand discrimination that their white counterparts were never forced to experi-ence.All of them have found their way into the homes of Americans bothBlack and white, provoking considerable laughter and, in the process, chang-ing many people s hearts. Tueth's 103-216 9/28/04 11:28 AM Page 17711FUN CITYhe show begins with a black-and-white photograph of the New YorkCity skyline reminiscent of scenes from Woody Allen s film Manhat-Ttan.In the same Allen style there then follows a photomontage of ahappy couple enjoying the city: strolling across a bridge in Central Park withThe Dakota behind them, hailing a cab in the rain, walking their dog past achurchyard, ordering food at a deli, browsing through a bookstore, returningfrom a trip to the corner grocery, buying flowers at a street stand, sharing wineand lunch by the Central Park lagoon, and walking along the East Riverpromenade.Several shots show them engaging in public displays of affection:they are caught snuggling up to each other on that Central Park bridge; theman kisses the woman s shoulder as they wait for the subway train at theUnion Square stop; they pause in the midst of a nighttime stroll down acrowded city street to kiss each other once again; and, finally, they commit to aserious kiss as the East River shimmers in the background.The mood was thus set for Mad About You, the popular and award-winningsituation comedy starring Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt as Paul and JamieBuchman, a young married couple living on Twelfth Street and Fifth Avenuein the heart or is it the belly? of Manhattan.The funky-blues theme songcreated a lighthearted romantic atmosphere for these two as they  jump intothe final frontier of romantic love: marriage.And apparently they could nothave picked a more likely place to succeed the big city of the 1990s.But the Buchmans of Mad About You were not alone on their adventure.Throughout the 1990s television situation comedy moved almost all of its mostpopular characters into identifiable urban areas.Seinfeld, Friends, The Nanny,Cosby, Spin City, Caroline in the City, Just Shoot Me, News Radio, Veronica s Closet,The Wayans Bros., and The Parent  Hood were all situated quite definitely in NewYork City.Murphy Brown was a major player in the Washington, D.C., media Tueth's 103-216 9/28/04 11:28 AM Page 178178 Laughter in the Living Room|world, while Suddenly Susan s characters put out a magazine in San Francisco;Frasier s opening graphic was the skyline of Seattle; and The John LaroquetteShow began with the star leaning against a model of the Gateway Arch in SaintLouis.Ellen and Cybill resided in Los Angeles; Drew Carey lived and workedin Cleveland; and Ally McBeal coped with her life and fantasies in a Bostonsetting.All of these programs made frequent references to their city, and cer-tain ones set in New York City most notably Seinfeld, Mad About You, andSpin City made city life essential to the plot.The urban locale is only one feature that these programs shared.They ex-emplify many other developments in the situation comedy of the 1990s.A fewof them were based on the earlier stand-up material of their stars.For most ofthem the pace of the dialogue and scenes was more rapid than earlier televi-sion comedy.And the family situations, or lack thereof, distinguished themfrom the pack of television families that have inhabited almost all the situationcomedies from the beginning.The scripts for these urban comedies displayednew patterns of comic characters, relationships, plot resolutions and, in theireffect on the larger culture, a new code for interpreting life in the 1990s.To understand the development of television s urban situation comedy, it ishelpful to contrast its more fluid shape with the distinct outlines of an earlierstrain of situation comedy, what Hal Himmelstein has dubbed the  suburbanmiddle-landscape comedy. 1 In these comedies, television s comic depiction ofAmerican life and the actual social ideal of the American family, for a period ofalmost twenty-five years, matched each other closely [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]

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