Arts Apropos of Summer Insomnia: Question about TV
Early this morning, I watched (on DVD) three ancient episodes of the great American TV Show All in the Family. The three episodes I watched were from 1971!
In the first episode, Archie discovers that Meathead is mailing a letter to President Nixon to discuss pollution, ecology, the war in Vietnam, race relations, water quality and food safety standards. Outraged at Meathead’s insolence, Archie decides to write his own letter to Nixon praising the commander in chief for being a great president. (The episode comes with a great fantasy sequence in which Archie imagines that Nixon reads the letter on national television to thank him.)
In the second episode, Archie suspects that Meathead’s flamboyant friend is a fag. (Great line: Archie accuses the entire country of England of being a “fagdom.” Archie’s homophobia gets a bracing reality check when he discovers that his own drinking buddy, a he-man ex-pro-football player, is the one who’s gay.
In the third episode, Archie tries to turn his minor car accident into a whiplash lawsuit, and he hires a Jewish lawyer because he thinks Jews make shrewder, smarter, and craftier lawyers. In a stunning sequence, he makes Meathead go through the Yellow Pages and read the names of Jewish lawyers until Archie picks the firm that sounds the most Jewish: Rabinowitz, Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz. (He ends up losing his case.)
These episodes were ultra sophisticated and the second two in particular addressed homophobia and racism with a candor that would be shocking today. Lefty morons would probably think the script was politically incorrect (completely missing the point) and everyday TV viewers would probably just find the whole thing too shrill and chaotic and depressing.
There’s certainly some cool shows around these days on HBO, but I love these brilliant time capsules—a mainstream, hit TV show—that prove how angsty and contemplative and engaged America once was.
Question: Are there any shows out there today that are this smart and provocative..that are worth watching? And I don’t want to hear about some ironic, post-p.c. show that throws sexism and racism around just to be flip and “refreshing.”
Oh, I also watched the movie Match Point starring Scarlet Johannson. God damn.