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Has “Cheers” aged well? Was Norm the norm in 1982? Was the toxic behavior in the show’s Boston-based bar a device to expose the destructive nature of misogyny or was it just a casual reflection of a patriarchal system?
Carla Tortelli and Diane Chambers, the barmaids in the first season of the show, served as sparring partners for their coworkers, customers, and each other. Carla was at home at "Cheers." Diane was a fish out of water. Carla and Diane could not have been more different. But Rhea Perlman and Shelley Long, the actors who portrayed Carla and Diane, both were incredible actors with excellent comedic timing.
Cynthia Bemis Abrams takes a closer at their work and celebrates their contributions as two of the strong, female characters that emerged on television in the 1980s. She discusses the interplay among the regular characters at the bar, the foundational toxic environment, and the influence of female writers and showrunners on comedies of the era.
L.A. Law (1986-94) lived a glamorous, full life. The series pilot, written by Steven Bochco (Hill Street Blues) and Terry Louise Fisher (writer/producer of Cagney & Lacey), when viewed today is a time capsule of office life that reveals sexism, racism, and generational approaches to power.
Full of quality TV promise, L.A. Law launched with a bang. Why isn't it now celebrated for its transformational prowess? We cover that, too, and applaud Alfre Woodard's epic performance, which occurred early in her career.
Host Cynthia Bemis Abrams provides a short but detailed briefing on how and why Anita Hill became an instant household name. From the nationally televised hearings of the U.S. Senate's Judiciary Committee Hearings on the nomination of Judge Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court, Hills frank statement about sexual harassment and toxic work environments was a booster rocket for cable's C-SPAN. Hill's prepared statement ranks 69 in American Rhetoric's Top 100 Speeches of 20th Century. Cynthia explains the aggressive questioning from male senators of both parties as well as Hill's work and legacy that followed the 1991 spectacle.
Refreshing the writing and timeline of a 2016 episode, Advanced TV Herstory examines the most basic elements of an event that changed the lives of American women.
It captivated millions of viewers and was talked about by millions more. Before #MeToo, Weinstein, Kavanaugh and Cosby, Anita Hill's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991 brought the topic of sexual harassment and Clarence Thomas's fitness to be a judge into the conversation.
Episode provides historical context to Robert Bork's earlier nomination to the Supreme Court, and the roles of then-Senators Biden and Specter.
Headlines in late summer 2018 caught me at my core - prompting me to realize why we cherish some of the finest writing & acting onTV - from Murphy Brown and Designing Women. We DO need to pay closer attention to the power and influence of media. Linda Bloodworth-Thomason's guest column in The Hollywood Reporter sheds light on her creative exile, suffered at the hands of CBS' Les Moonves.
Whether you've ever watched Aaron Sorkin's 1998-2000 classic series Sports Night or not, this episode explains its 2018 relevance and calls for a reboot. We recently reviewed a sexual harassment plot from That Girl (1967) & found a similar scenario in Sports Night... which leads us to pondering the journalism's commitment to changing workplace harassment.
Season 1 (1966-67) of TV Classic That Girl delivered an all too familiar story line. Guest star Carroll O'Connor played an opera singer with intentions on getting Ann Marie's attention in exchange for an interview. What ensues is a good look at how sexual harassment was written as a conflict by mid-century male writers.
Host Cynthia Bemis Abrams names "China Beach" (1988-1991) as the best-written and best-acted series ever. The expensive series about the Vietnam War as seen through eyes of American women is truly timeless. Cynthia provides a deep review of "Holly's Choice" from third season, which featured Ricki Lake as Holly, the donut dolly (aid worker). Drama unfolds in reverse, a powerful writing tactic if it executed well, which it was. Cynthia explores the many layers of meaning that stories of war often weave, only this time the different value placed on military lives versus civilian lives, as seen through the eyes of medical professionals, soldiers and women.
Cynthia Bemis Abrams welcomes art historian, professor and author Emily L. Newman to this focused discussion on cable's growth and capacity. Newman has written about the niche program content aimed at women, including the made-for-TV movie genre on eating disorders. The pair share insights into the milestone movies and headlines of the 80s, 90s and recent years that contained bulimia and anorexia as plot lines, and how they lined up with the real life influences of Cathy Rigby, Tracey Gold, Meredith Baxter and Karen Carpenter.
Host Cynthia Bemis Abrams connects the television dots of the status of birth control, abortion and regional children's programming that led Sissy Spacek to produce the made-for-TV movie "A Private Matter." Cynthia creates the context of the popular Baby Boom children's show, "Romper Room" which in the Arizona market featured Sherri Finkbine as the "teacher." Finkbine was prescribed Thalidomide to relieve symptoms of morning sickness. The remainder of the true story is nothing short of tragic and historic.
Host Cynthia Bemis Abrams discusses daytime (audience-participation) shows from the 1990s and 2000s with media studies experts Kathalene Razzano, Loubna Skalli. Skalli, Razzano and their colleague Christine Quail, analyzed and cataloged the genre for their book, Vulture Culture: The Politics and Pedagogy of Daytime Television Talk Shows. Cynthia, Kathalene and Loubna look at the themes of Maury Povich, Jenny Jones and Judge Judy that can readily be categorized as misogynistic. Many of the "real" guests present issues about self-control, paternalism and self esteem.
Host Cynthia Bemis Abrams chats with Wendy Burns-Ardolino, PhD and author of TV Female Foursomes and Their Fans about an important episode from Designing Women. The plot for "They Shoot Fat Women, Don't They?" was a result of months of tabloid headlines asserting that showrunner Linda Bloodworth-Thomason was not getting along with star Delta Burke. Rumors circulated that Burke's weight gain had become an issue and that she was becoming increasingly "difficult to work with." Cynthia and Wendy discuss how the 1989 episode was ahead of its time for calling out fatshaming.