Flashback Friday: The Parent ‘Hood (1995 to 1999)

When it comes to family sitcoms, there are two distinct categories. The first (a la the 1950s) is a complete fantasy that has nothing to do with reality. The second is one that reflects the everyday lives of the average family ( i.e. Roseanne).

From 1995 to 1999, The Parent ‘Hood was on the air. Robert Peterson (Robert Townsend is a college professor who is balancing work, marriage, and parenthood. As anyone who has gone or is going through this knows, it is far from easy.

I think it goes without saying that there was enough of an audience to keep it on the air for four years. But looking back, it was just another sitcom. While it was not a complete boilerplate, it stuck to the script just a little too much.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.


Throwback Thursday: Somebody Feed Phil (2018 to Present)

The best way to learn about a specific culture is via the food they serve. It speaks to their history, how they prepare the meals, the availability of the ingredients, etc.

Somebody Feel Phil has been on Netflix since 2018. This travel documentary follows Everybody Loves Raymond co-creator Phil Rosenthal as he travels the world. In each location, he learns about the history, shines and a spotlight on charities/non-profits while chowing down on the region’s cuisine.

This series is so interesting. Instead of being just a long and boring list of facts, it is so much fun to watch. Rosenthal brings each city he visits to life in a way that is unexpected and wonderful. In addition, some of the dishes he eats sound delicious.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Somebody Feel Phil is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Throwback Thursday: Hot in Cleveland (2010-2015)

According to our cultural beliefs, women of a certain age are disposable. They are no longer young, are past (or nearly past) childbearing age, and can be replaced with a newer model.

The TV Land sitcom, Hot in Cleveland, aired from 2010 to 2015. Melanie (Valerie Bertinelli), Joy (Jane Leeves), and Victoria (Wendie Malick) are three forty-something women who are flying from Los Angeles to Paris. When their plane makes an unexpected stop in Cleveland, they decide to stay and take advantage of the social and romantic opportunities that are not available in California.

Moving in with Elka (the late Betty White), the women are introduced to everything (and everyone) the city has to offer.

I didn’t regularly watch Hot in Cleveland, but when I did, I found myself laughing. It was funny, entertaining, and proved once more that women over 40 are just as vibrant and full of life as their younger counterparts.

If I had to pick a favorite aspect of the show, it was Betty White. Still sharp as a tack, she never failed to make the audience laugh.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Flashback Friday: Boy Meets World (1993 to 2000)

Our adolescent years are not easy, as anyone who is or has gone through those years knows/remembers. The emotional experience of growing up, learning about the world, and who you are often come out of hard lessons and difficult experiences.

The classic (at least in my mind) 1990s sitcom Boy Meets World (1993 to 2000) followed Cory Matthews (Ben Savage) as he slowly changes from a boy to a young adult. Along the way, he deals with love, loss, heartbreak, etc, and learns that the simplicity of childhood does not last forever.

I don’t know about anyone else, but this show is one of the best of my generation. I grew up with Cory and feel a kinship with this character. Granted, it was television and not exactly reality. That being said, I can look back at BMW and parallel my preteen/teenage years with Cory and company.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Pod Meet World Podcast Review

Nostalgia is a funny thing. It can take you back to who you were at the moment in time. But there is also an element of understanding how the passage of time can change your perspective.

The new podcast Pod Meets World stars three actors from the 1990’s sitcom Boy Meets World. In the same vein as Zack to the Future, Danielle Fishel (Topanga), Rider Strong (Shawn), and Will Friedle (Eric) talk about their memories of making the show, watching it through adult eyes, and interviewing their costars.

This podcast is so much fun to listen to. I remember watching it as a kid and loving the program. Growing up with these characters, the experiences of my teenage years was perfectly reflected through Corey’s eyes. It was the perfect mixture of reminiscing and having the understanding of now being an adult.

What made me feel quite old was the episode with William Russ, who played the father. At the time of the show, Russ was the same age that Strong is now. Where have the last thirty years gone?

Do I recommend it? Yes.

New episodes of Pod Meet World are released every Monday and Thursday.

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Throwback Thursday: Mom (2013 to 2021)

As children, it is easy to assume that our parents are perfect. One of the hallmarks of growing up is realizing that the adults we were raised by are human, and therefore, imperfect.

The sitcom, Mom (2013 to 2021) followed the relationship between Bonnie (Allison Janney) and her adult daughter, Christy (Anna Faris). Christy is a newly sober single mother who is trying to stay on the figurative wagon. Bonnie is a former alcoholic who does not hesitate to make “suggestions” on what Christy should do differently.

Though the cast is led by two brilliant and funny actresses, this show turns me off completely. I can’t put my finger on it, but I’ve seen enough to know that if I had to choose between watching Mom and turning off the television completely, I would turn it off.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

Married… With Children Character Review: Peg Bundy

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television show Married… With Children. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

The image of the classic sitcom housewife is as follows: she cleans her house, takes care of her children and husband, cooks delicious meals, dispenses advice, and does with a smile on her face. There is little in the way of unhappiness or wanting more. Peg Bundy (Katey Sagal) is the exact opposite of this vision of maternal perfection. She can’t cook to save her life, her house is a mess, her children are undisciplined, and she mocks her husband Al (Ed O’Neill) for the fun of it.

Knocked up by Al in high school, their wedding was far from a grand, romantic affair. Instead of being wise with the income that comes in from her husband’s job, she picks his pockets frequently and dresses in a way that some might view as inappropriate for a mother. When her kids are in school and Al is at work, Peg can be found on the living room couch, feigning housework, watching daytime TV, and stuffing her face.

But for all of her crassness and lack of caring, Peg does her best, in her own way. She is loyal to her husband and is raising the next generation the best way she knows how to.

Donna Reed, Peg is not. But in going against type, she reflects the everyday woman, even if her character is exaggerated. Real-life is complicated, as we all know. So are marriage and being a parent. It is those complications that make her unique, interesting, and forever funny.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

Married… With Children Character Review: Al Bundy

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*I apologize for not posting last weekend. There is only so much that can be done in a day.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television show Married… With Children. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

The image of the family sitcom father is one that was developed in the 1950s and has changed over the decades. Though he is imperfect and has his flaws (as well do), he does the best he can to take care of his wife and children. Al Bundy (Ed O’Neill) from Married With Children is the exact opposite.

His adult life is one long string of miseries. After knocking up his wife, Peg (Katey Sagal), he was forced to marry her in a literal shotgun wedding. To support his wife and kids, this former high school football star is a shoe salesman in the local mall. He hates his job (which pays nothing) and hates the customers. The only bright spot is that it gets him away from Peggy, who is frequently looking for some bedroom alone time with her husband.

It doesn’t help that his children are moochers. His daughter Kelly (Christina Applegate) is the epitome of a dumb blonde. His son Bud (David Faustino), is well, an idiot. His only outlet is drinking with is spending with his friends and drooling over half-naked women half his age.

When Al is home, he has more than his family to contend with. Neighbors Marcy and Steve Rhoades (Amanda Bearse and David Garrison) are introduced as the new neighbors and newlyweds who are the picture-perfect couple. While Al is able to corrupt both Steve and Marcy’s second husband, Jefferson D’Arcy (Ted McGinley), he frequently buts heads with Marcy. But, when push comes to shove, he is the man you want in your corner.

To sum it up: To say that Al Bundy is politically incorrect is an understatement. He is rude, he is crude, miserable, and sarcastic. But he is also, in a sense, more true to life than some of his counterparts in other sitcoms. The humor in his character comes from the crassness that is over the top, but completely relatable.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

Throwback Thursday: Mork & Mindy (1978-1982)

Comedy, like drama, comes from the clash of personalities and ideas.

The 1970s sitcom, Mork & Mindy (1978-1982) took this basic idea and stretched it into new directions. Mork (the late Robin Williams in one of his first major roles) is an alien who is sent to Earth to study humanity and report back to his superiors. Renting a room from Mindy (Pam Dawber), the culture clash, the difference in perspective, and Mork’s charming innocence makes for classic television that will never get old.

I remember watching reruns of this show as a kid and laughing, but not quite getting all of the references. Now, as an adult, I get it and I love it. Mindy is to Dean Martin as Mork is to Jerry Lewis. Mork’s naivete, out the left-field references, and complete lack of cynicism perfectly conflicts with Mindy’s realism and understanding of the world around her. If nothing else, this series cemented Williams’s on-screen persona that has kept the audience laughing for decades.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

History of the Sitcom Review

The beautiful thing about art is that it is never static. It adapts to both time and culture, giving creators the ability to match what is going on in the wider world.

The new eight part mini-series CNN miniseries, History of the Sitcom, premiered on Sunday night. Each episode focuses on how the sitcom evolved over time and reflects on how it explores the different aspects of our lives from family to work to school, etc. Interviewing actors, writers, and producers, it delves into how this genre has shaped American culture.

I really enjoyed the first two episodes. The first one focused on the evolution of the family sitcom and how it has evolved from the white, suburban Father Knows Best and The Donna Reed Show programs that populated the television schedule of the 1950’s. The second one talked about how sex, sexuality, the LGBTQ community, and the different variations of gender have been seen by audiences.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

History of the Sitcom airs on Sunday night at 9PM on CNN.

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