Prime Time: How TV Portrays American Culture

Overview

What does television tell us about our lives? In Prime Time: How TV Portrays American Culture, noted media critics Robert Lichter, Linda Lichter, and Stanley Rothman reveal that prime time entertainment is often out of synch with the reality of American life. Prime Time provides the first comprehensive guide to the meanings and messages of entertainment television. From the 1950s to the 1990s, it examines how the world of TV depicts American society in the home, at work, and in popular culture. The authors show ...
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Overview

What does television tell us about our lives? In Prime Time: How TV Portrays American Culture, noted media critics Robert Lichter, Linda Lichter, and Stanley Rothman reveal that prime time entertainment is often out of synch with the reality of American life. Prime Time provides the first comprehensive guide to the meanings and messages of entertainment television. From the 1950s to the 1990s, it examines how the world of TV depicts American society in the home, at work, and in popular culture. The authors show that television's images of American life have changed drastically in recent years to include more graphic sex and violence, political commentary and new images of women and racial minorities. Based on a scientific survey of nearly 1,000 shows and more than 10,000 characters, from Dodge City to Dallas, from the Honeymooners to the Huxtables, and from June Cleaver to Murphy Brown, Prime Time is the most extensive analysis of television's history ever presented in one volume. According to Prime Time, television has become an agent of social upheaval. The 1990s world of sitcoms, soaps, and cop shows is sexy, sarcastic, and cynical about the very standards and sensibilities television embraced so enthusiastically just 20 years ago.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The authors of this in-depth study analyze ``the royal road to America's fantasy life''-television, which viewers watch for some four hours daily. Concentrating on prime-time series, their characterization and plotlines (news and documentaries are ignored), each area of programming is evaluated: the proliferation of violence (the authors find more violence on one cable outlet than on all the networks combined); sex (``foreplay has surpassed gunplay as prime time's favorite pastime''); female characterizations from Lucy Ricardo to Murphy Brown; the American family as portrayed from Father Knows Best to Roseanne; homosexuality; race (from Amos 'n' Andy to Archie Bunker); and abortion, one of the few sex-related issues that TV treats ``gingerly.'' The authors, (the Lichters are on the staff of the Center for Media and Public Affairs in Washington, D.C.; Rothman directs the Center for the Study of Social and Political Change at Smith College) have written an insightful study aimed at a serious audience. (Nov.)
Library Journal
The authors of this book have "coded" numerous episodes of prime-time shows from 1950 to the present to study the evolution of prime-time television as popular culture. The book is divided into five parts ("America Goes Prime Time," "Private Lives," "The Working World," "Crime and Punishment," and "Public Issues"), with individual chapters focusing on the development of social topics or character types. As the authors' data and their organization of the shows indicate, many shows from 1950 to the present involved-and continue to involve-controversial social and political issues. However, most of the information will not be new to those who have a knowledge of television in the era covered. This book is not "light reading" for the casual observer. Still, for its up-to-date information, it may be added to collections very much in need of another title on the interaction of television and society.-Judy Hauser, Oakland Schls. Lib. Svcs., Waterford, Mich.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780895264916
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing, Incorporated, An Eagle Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 1/1/1995
  • Pages: 478
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 1.52 (d)

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