Norman Lear is one of the godfathers of modern television. One of the geniuses behind All In The Family, The Jeffersons, Maude, etc, his shows forever altered the way the television landscape.
In 2014, Lear published his autobiography, Even This I Get to Experience. The narrative is the standard womb to tomb autobiography. Starting with his parents, the reader learns about his early life and then goes through to his adulthood, his marriages and his children and his iconic career as a comedy writer and a show runner.
Yes, the narrative for the book is pretty standard for an autobiography. While some parts of the book are a little slow, overall, it’s a good read. As both a fan and a writer, it’s always fascinating to learn how one’s experiences and the people they meet along the way can either consciously or subconsciously be found in the writer’s work.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
There is something about reruns of 1970’s sitcoms. The g-d awful clothing, the way too catchy music and the way that many shows broke new ground for different faces and voices to be heard and seen by audiences.
Airing from 1975-1979, Welcome Back Kotter revolved around a teacher, Gabe Kotter (Gabe Kaplan) who decides to teach the school’s most unruly, unteachable class in a Brooklyn high school. The students, led by Vinnie Barbarino (a young John Travolta) are not the easiest students to teach. But Mr. Kotter is up to the challenge.
This show was and still is very funny. It was also ahead of time with it’s racially and ethnically diverse cast.
In the late 1970’s Three’s Company was either loved or hated, depending on the viewer. Jack Tripper ( the late John Ritter), Janet Wood (Joyce DeWitt) and Chrissy Snow (Suzanne Somers) are roommates. A straight man who has two female roommates in the late 1970’s was bound to raise a few eyebrows. So Jack pretends to be gay. Meanwhile, the owners of the building, Stanley Roper (Normal Fell) and his wife Helen (Audra Lindley) have their own problems. Stanley is not sure that Jack is actually gay and Helen wants some from her husband, but he is not interested.
This show is so full of sexual innuendo that it would have and still today raises some eyebrows. But that doesn’t stop the audience from laughing.
And then there is Maude. A spinoff from All In The Family, Maude (Bea Arthur) is Edith’s liberal, independent and sometimes loudmouthed cousin. Married to husband number four, Walter (Bill Macy), Maude’s adult daughter Carol (Adrienne Barbeau) and young grandson live with them.
For the 1970’s, this show really (and I mean really) pushed the envelope. Maude was unlike any female character that viewers had seen on television. But if we are to look back, Maude paved the way for the strong female characters that dominate today’s television programs.
I recommend all three.