Sitcoms and Everything Else: Now and Then
The difference between watching a sitcom in the 1980's and watching a sitcom in 2015 is this: back then, you were never quite sure what you were going to get . . . you'd be settling in for WKRP in Cincinnati, hoping for some humorous hijinks with Dr. Johnny Fever and Venus Flytrap (and some dueling cleavage between Bailey and Jennifer) and suddenly you're thrust into a "very special episode" about people being trampled at a Who concert . . . but today, because of the fragmentation of media, everything is much more genre-based and tone specific . . . there's very little straying from a show's particular formula-- I'm not sure if this is a good thing . . . the fact that we can control the tone of everything we consume, whether it be music, TV, or political commentary-- while we get what we want, there are less surprises: imagine a "very special episode" of 30 Rock, where one of Tracy Jordan's children gets seduced and creepily molested by "the bicycle man."