Archie Bunker's America: TV in an Era of Change, 1968-1978 / Edition 3

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Overview

Archie Bunker’s America discerns what was “in the air” as television networks tried to accommodate cultural and political swings in America from the Vietnam era through the late 1970s. Josh Ozersky’s spirited examination of the ways America changed television during a period of intense social upheaval, recuperation, and fragmentation uncovers a bold and beguiling facet of American cultural history. From the conflict-based comedy of All in the Family and such post-sixties frolics as Three’s Company to tendentiously apolitical programs like Happy Days, Ozersky describes the range and power of television to echo larger schemes of American life.

Around 1968, advertisers who were anxious to break into the lucrative baby-boomer demographic convinced television networks to begin to abandon prime-time programming that catered to universal audiences. With the market splintering, networks ventured into more issue-based and controversial territories. While early network attempts at more “relevant” programming failed, Ozersky examines how CBS struck gold with the political comedy All in the Family in 1971 and how other successful, conflict-based comedies turned away from typical show business conventions. As the 1970s wore on, the innovations of the previous years began to lose their public appeal. After Vietnam and Watergate, Ozersky argues, Americans were exhausted from the political turbulence of the preceding decade and were ready for a televisual “return to normalcy.”

Straightforward, engaging, and liberally illustrated, Archie Bunker’s America is peppered with the stories of outsider cops and failed variety shows, of a young Bill Murray and an old Ed Sullivan, of Mary Tyler Moore, Fonzie, and the Skipper, too. Drawing on interviews with television insiders, trade publications, and the programs themselves, Ozersky chronicles the ongoing attempts of prime-time television to program for a fragmented audience—an audience whose greatest common denominator, by 1978, may well have been the act of watching television itself. The book also includes a foreword by renowned media critic Mark Crispin Miller and an epilogue of related commentary on the following decades.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Josh Ozersky’s study is important both for the new light it sheds on an extraordinary moment in the history of TV and for its illumination also of the moment when, arguably, the current phase of U.S. cultural history began. For TV’s postapocalyptic move to depoliticize the spirit of the Sixties marked the onset of the culture of TV that floods our consciousness today.”—Mark Crispin Miller, from the Foreword
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780809325078
  • Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2003
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 224
  • Lexile: 1370L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Josh Ozersky writes frequently on American cultural history for Newsday, the Washington Post, History: Review of New Books, Tikkun, Business 2.0, and other periodicals. He is the author of Readings for the 21st Century and has contributed to the Oxford Dictionary of American Biography.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Foreword
Preface: TV, Culture, and Cultural History
1 "Green Acres Is the Place to Be": America and TV, 1968 1
2 The Demographic Imperative: Culture and Counterculture, 1968-1970 26
3 "The Church of What's Happening Now": The Great Shift, 1970-1972 60
4 "Love Is All Around": Uneasy Footing in the New America, 1972-1974 84
5 "Sunday, Monday, Happy Days ... Tuesday, Wednesday, Happy Days": Return to Normalcy, 1975-1977 104
6 "It Takes Different Strokes": TV and America, 1978 122
Epilogue 144
Notes 155
Selected Bibliography 181
Index 187
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