Every week, we pick a new episode of the week. It could be good. It could be bad. It will always be interesting. You can read the archives here. The episode of the week for May 19 through 25 is the ABC special Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons.
Is nostalgia all we have left? If you were to watch Live in Front of a Studio Audience — a hyper-earnest attempt to replicate episodes of two of Norman Lear’s hit 1970s sitcoms with popular, contemporary actors — without recognizing its source material, would it make any sense to you? Would you know who Archie Bunker was without me saying, “the bigot who represented greatest generation conservatism in the 1970s mega-hit All in the Family”?
Probably. The storytelling of these old shows is rock solid, and so long as you’re at least somewhat familiar with what America’s cultural and social mores looked like in the 1970s (although if that’s the case, you likely also know the shows of Norman Lear), you could follow along just fine.
But there’s something so fetishistic about TV’s increasing reliance on resurrecting its own past by any means possible. Live in Front of a Studio Audience almost reminded me of a high school play version of M*A*S*H I once attended, where every performance felt like a copy of a copy of a copy of Alan Alda. It felt reanimated, right down to the ways that the various performers were doing spins on what the original actors brought to the roles. It’s all a little bit ghoulish, right?
Nah. I kind of loved it!
America’s very overt longing for the easy dominance of the monoculture is getting pretty embarrassing, huh?
I should note here that Norman Lear is a living treasure. He’s the man behind One Day at a Time, Maude, Good Times, the underrated movie comedy Cold Turkey, and so many other films and TV shows. And that’s in addition to All in the Family and The Jeffersons, the two shows that Live in Front of a Studio Audience recreated. The former is one of TV’s greatest sitcoms, while the latter (an All in the Family spinoff) isn’t quite at the same level of quality, but is endlessly watchable and stacked with great performances nonetheless.
Lear will turn 97 this July. He’s still spry as can be, but still — he’s almost 97. He appeared during the special to talk a little bit about All in the Family and The Jeffersons and what they meant to him in his heyday, and what they could mean to America now. I love the guy, and maybe that’s why I gave Live in Front of a Studio Audience, clunky though it was, a bit of a pass. (Hell, host and producer Jimmy Kimmel’s obvious affection for Lear even made me like Kimmel at least a little bit more.)
There’s a charming optimism to Lear, even now, and it doesn’t take more than a few moments of the special’s reenactment of All in the Family to notice. Watching its spin on All in the Family’s season four episode “Henry’s Farewell,” the mentions of Richard Nixon’s wars with the press that open the episode have a very “same as it ever was” feel. You start to sense how a 96-year-old might look at our current political landscape and say, “Psh. I’ve seen worse.”
When I first heard about Live in Front of a Studio Audience, it seemed like one of the more overt examples of America — or maybe just broadcast television — doing its damnedest to resurrect the monoculture that presided over the country in the ’70s and ’80s. Back then, broadcast networks were the dominant social force, and the fact that All in the Family and The Jeffersons’ scripts weren’t going to be updated at all for the present era made me fear that the project was a simple nostalgia play.
But the actual effect was something far more complicated and fascinating. By dragging these episodes out of the 1970s and into the 2010s, Live in Front of a Studio Audience offered some reassurance that our problems are not unique to our era, that we are not exclusively gifted with a world that seems to be falling apart — while also subtly insisting that overreaching presidents and the vast income gap between white and black Americans will always be with us. But if you think about that a little more, you start to realize how depressing it is to be reminded that our problems are not unique to our era, that we are not exclusively gifted with a world that seems to be falling apart.
There’s a certain optimism to be found in realizing that the past isn’t as rosy as you remember it, but there’s also a kind of glum realism that sets in when you realize the script for the Jeffersons pilot — in which a newly rich black couple tries to find their place in a high-rise building — would require only the most minor of tweaks to work in 2019. Institutional racism still exists, no matter how many jokes old sitcoms told about it. So one obvious argument you can take from this special is that our problems never really get solved. They just mutate.
The result is that Live in Front of a Studio Audience created a kind of nostalgia for the monoculture, but mostly for the monoculture as a vehicle through which we could talk about all of this stuff. Our political discussions are so fraught in 2019 that it’s tempting to long for the heated shouting of Archie Bunker and his son-in-law Mike. At least their anger was occasionally punctuated by audience laughter.
But how were the performances?
The weirdest thing about Live in Front of a Studio Audience was that so many of the actors were doing rough spins on the shows’ original performances, while some were more comfortable inventing their own spin on these roles. It created an interesting clash of acting styles — one part nostalgic pander, one part genuine attempt to update two classic TV shows. (I should also note here the special was directed by James Burrows, probably the best sitcom director of all time.)
By far the most adept performances came from Marisa Tomei as Edith Bunker and Wanda Sykes as Louise Jefferson. Both women presented basic riffs on the work that Jean Stapleton and Isabel Sanford offered on the original shows, while maintaining just enough of their own star personas to counterbalance what would otherwise be a straightforward impersonation. (Both also proved how adept they are at the stagier aspects of working in front of a live studio audience, something that a few of the younger actors in the cast struggled with.)
The weakest performance, somewhat surprisingly, came from Woody Harrelson, a guy who spent almost a decade on Cheers, another classic studio audience sitcom, and a terrific actor who’s found the complicated soul of tricky characters like Archie Bunker. Unfortunately, he got lost in trying to do an impression of Carroll O’Connor, which is perhaps understandable (O’Connor’s is one of TV’s all-time great performances) but still left me wishing Harrelson had departed further from the original.
But that wasn’t really the point of this special, was it? Live in Front of a Studio Audience was mostly designed as something that balances nostalgia with the thrill of what amounts to a sitcom cameo — you know, when the front door opens, and everybody says, “Will Ferrell?!” and the studio audience cheers.
Those cameos are what so much of this special amounted to, especially in the more overtly goofy Jeffersons episode. That riff on the show’s pilot featured Ferrell and Kerry Washington as the Jeffersons’ neighbors the Ellises, who are in an interracial marriage (an incredibly daring move for TV in the ’70s) and also allowed viewers to hear Washington call Ferrell a “honky,” if that’s something they’d been longing for. But the real thrill came with the realization that Will Ferrell and Kerry Washington signed on to dutifully play sitcom characters who have been with TV fans so long they almost feel mythic.
Maybe, then, the level of the mythic is the level on which we should appreciate Live in Front of a Studio Audience. This is a clumsy 90 minutes of television (66 without commercials), but it made me immediately start fantasy-casting new versions of classic episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, of Cheers, of The Cosby Show. (Of all classic TV shows, Cosby is perhaps the one that could benefit most from new actors presenting exactly the same scripts — for hopefully obvious reasons). And the smash hit ratings for the broadcast similarly suggest that an audience (and a surprisingly young one, at that) definitely exists for this kind of show.
Is this what we want? An endless repetition of stories we already know, because we find some sort of comfort in feeling our way toward an ending we’ve heard before? Live in Front of a Studio Audience’s big ratings mean the sitcom curiosity will almost certainly become the next trend that TV runs into the ground, like the live musical and the sitcom revival season before it. But I hope everybody realizes there’s something special about this particular idea.
We’ve always repeated our stories, over and over, until we know them backward and forward. This special might have grown out of nostalgia, or Jimmy Kimmel’s ego, or a genuine desire to fete Lear while he’s still alive. But there’s a comfort in ritual, in recreating the same basic ceremony over and over again. And what is a TV rerun if not the ultimate ritual?
You can watch Live in Front of a Studio Audience on Hulu.
How Self-Hatred Can Insensibly Poison Our Lives
American woman Shelli Wilder Netko wrote a post about what worries all the women in the world — self-hatred, inevitable aging, and the race against time that will definitely be lost. But instead of worrying about these things, we should just focus on loving the people around us. Her post was so moving that we feel for her from the bottom of our hearts.
Here at Bright Side, this post has moved us a step closer to the most sincere love for ourselves. We hope it will do the same for you.
I have never really liked my hands. I have short, calloused fingers, wide palms, and messed up nail beds from a nail-biting stint when I was in grade school. Add to it the effect of knuckle-popping, which I became obsessed with after I saw the cool kid on the block do it in second grade. But nonetheless, I’ve always referred to my hands as looking like “dog paws,” versus the long, graceful hands that my sister has and that I’ve always wanted. I’ve always thought I was in the wrong line when God sprinkled “beautiful hand fairy dust” on the babies.
To add to my hand shame, since my 20s I’ve had the biggest, juiciest veins in my hands and forearms that have always been a phlebotomist’s dream come true, causing my hands to look a bit masculine and old if you ask me. When my kids were young they liked to sit by me during church and “play” with my veins to make the time pass more quickly. They would sometimes ask why my hands were “like that.” The standard mom answer applied here, “They just are, Hun.” But I always liked it — having one of them holding and touching my hands, no matter where or when or why.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve done my part to win the anti-aging race with my body and face. Eating healthy, exercising, and spending far too much money taking care of my skin. And yet, when I look down at my keyboard countless times a day, I still see these hands that look much older than my heart feels, and appear as if they could use a nice rest.
When the photographer stopped me to pose for this photo at my wedding in March to capture my sash and ring on the lace pattern of my dress, I automatically blurted out, “Can you edit the picture? I don’t like my hands.” Everyone has something they don’t fully embrace about themselves, don’t they?
But when the wedding photos came back I saw my hands in a whole new light. This picture is so beautiful, it captures everything. I saw the hands that had baked about 200 Birthday cakes, a truckload of cookies, changed thousands of diapers, wiped away a million crocodile tears, and clapped till they were raw cheering my kids on through every sport.
I saw this picture and I saw a gift. These hands may not be the smoothest, most graceful, longest, most feminine hands, but they are perfectly suited for the work that was laid out for me. These hands have been blessed with holding my newborn babies and grandbabies and holding the father of my children as he took his last breath.
I will find a beautiful frame for this picture to remind myself constantly of the love and purpose and duty I have in this life, and to remind myself that I have my mother’s hands — her gift to me.
What do you think of this story? Is there something about your appearance that you don’t like? Tell us in the comment section below.
A Daughter Wanted to Brag About Her Gorgeous Mom on Twitter and Accidentally Started a Beauty Contest
We’re totally used to social media sites that turn out to be an unpredictable phenomenon today and any post has the potential to go viral. This is what happened to a girl whose screen name is Your boyfriend’s best friend who posted a photo of her 43-year-old mom on Twitter and accidentally started a beauty contest. And even though it was just moms who took part in this sudden marathon, it was a dad who won!
Bright Side couldn’t stand aside and has decided to show you some women who know about the secret of eternal youth. And the winner, of course.
In just one day, a daughter made her mom popular: her post got 23,000 likes and caused a lot of hype in the comments. Twitter users were really interested in her beauty secrets, because this 43-year-old woman looks really magnificent. So some people asked for her cosmetologist’s contact details and others tried to find out the woman’s phone number, promoting themselves as potential suitors.
Some people also wanted to show off their beautiful moms, so they started posting their photos in the comments. As a result, the post turned into a real beauty contest.
The more women who have managed to stop time there were, the more they were suspected in using magic.
Some users even doubted that they were relatives with their moms at all. Let’s agree: when a mother looks better than her daughter, the suspicions about whether they have common genes or not are pretty relevant.
Undoubtedly, all these women are extremely popular with men, even the younger ones.
It’s hard to believe that these hot beauties have 3, 4, or even 5 kids.
The finalists were women who were older than 60. When you look at them, you realize that age is just a number.
But the winner was a dad. Apparently, a user who calls themselves Taste Booster wanted to dilute this beauty flow with a touch of masculinity. All in all, the photo of a man lying down among all the fish he caught, a cat, and a dog hit the jackpot: the picture got 1,700 likes and became more successful than any of the other photos in the comments. The only exception was the photo of the person who started this beauty contest.
Undoubtedly, all the moms who participated in this viral post deserve admiration, but the picture “Dad and some bream” is an amazing sensation. Which one do you like the most?
Costs of raising pets and changing pet market consumer trends
반려동물 1마리 키우는데 드는 비용과 소비 트렌드 변화
In the past couple of decades, it’s become far more common in Korea to own a pet.
Owning a pet, of course, usually costs some money.
In this report, our Hong Yoo looks at how much that might be and how the petcare market is changing.
More than 10 million people living in South Korea have a pet.
That’s one pet for every four households.
According to a pet report by KB Financial Group, raising a dog costs an average of 85 U.S. dollars a month and raising a cat requires an average of 64 dollars a month.
Most of that money goes on food and treats.
The rest of the money is used for medical care and grooming.
But people are happy to treat their pets because these days pet owners think of their pets as a member of their family.
In Korea, these people are called “PetFam”.
The pet food market alone has seen an average of 19 percent annual growth on the back of this trend.
And because people think of their pets as part of their family, they want to take their pets along with them on trips.
So tour companies have started creating “pet tours”.
“Because there are people who want this kind of tour, we saw the potential of such a product in the market and so we came up with our Jeju pet tour. Pets can accompany their family all the time during the tour to Jeju Island including at the restaurant, tour spots, and the hotel because this tour is pet-centered.”
There are even home spa products for pets such as skin moisturizers, scaling products and grooming mists labeled as premium products because they are organic, eco-friendly, and pet-friendly. They can cost up to 40 dollars.
“Before, people used to think about pets as a living thing that you can buy just like a toy. But because people think of their pets as a part of the family, the pet market has become similar to the baby market. So now, owners are turning to premium products for their pets.”
And there are also luxury pet shops which sell premium products that can cost up to a thousand dollars.
That is the cost of a pet bed made out of oak in the style of the bed of King Louis the 16th.
And at this luxury department store, the most popular dog food costs more than 50 dollars for just 1-and-a-half kilograms.
These changing consumer trends in the pet market show how owners are willing to spend a lot on the best quality products for their pets now that they are seen as part of the family.
Hong Yoo, Arirang News.
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