The Honeymooners chronicles the lives of New York City bus driver Ralph Kramden and his wife, Alice, as they search for domestic happiness inside a confining Brooklyn apartment. As a stand-alone television program, it ran for just thirty-nine weeks from 1955 to 1956, but its characters appeared in long-running sketches on Calvalcade of Stars and The Jackie Gleason Show and the program has lived on for generations in reruns and home video releases. David Sterritt investigates The Honeymooners as an enduring and valuable index of societal norms and televisual tastes in the 1950s—a project made all the more intriguing by the diverse ways in which The Honeymooners both reaffirms and diverges from the typical broadcast idioms of its day.
With chapter headings borrowed from Honeymooners episode titles, this volume considers the program’s cultural, historical, and artistic dimensions in connection with the values of postwar America at large. Sterritt traces the roots of The Honeymooners within the context of the golden age of television, demonstrating that the show was central to early television history in ways that surpassed most of its rivals. He also details the many distinctive features, relating to both comedy style and ideological import, that set The Honeymooners apart from other shows and made it profoundly influential on family-based situation comedies in later decades. Ultimately, Sterritt shows that the program’s treatment of race, class, and gender was a revealing mirror of its time and that its characters, aesthetic qualities, and plot devices were more complex and sophisticated than they may have seemed.
Scholars of film and television studies, fans of The Honeymooners, and readers interested in 1950s American culture and television history will enjoy Sterritt’s analysis of The Honeymooners.
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