Six Hours of Television
In looking at modern television programming there are hundreds of shows to choose from. Picking six hours of television to analyze from the prospective of an anthropologist is by no means easy. It is easy however, to talk about what our nation looks like to others who have never been here. Everyone is gorgeous, lives happily, and overcomes all problems, but more on that later. Four hours of the programming I chose is perhaps the most popular programming this year, consistently topping the Nielsen ratings. For the remaining two hours of programming I decided to look at two police drama shows, one that was brand new this season and one not brand new, but still going strong.
For the two hours of police dramas, I looked at programs with different angles. NYPD BLUE is the story of police detectives, and HIGH INCIDENT was a new show that looked at the view of policing from the Œbeat.ı HIGH INCIDENT represented one of the first t.v. shows to come from the SKG works of Steven Spielberg. However, just like Spielbergıs previous AMAZING STORIES, HIGH INCIDENT has already ceased to air. This could still change though, with the next season. Of the remaining four hours, three are on television every Thursday night, and include the tremendously popular FRIENDS, the SINGLE GUY, the hits SEINFELD and CAROLINE IN THE CITY, and the most popular show this year, ER. For the remaining hour I choose to look at THE TONIGHT SHOW, with Jay Leno. Between these shows there are many similarities and many differences. All of these shows can be directly compared with each other, having some of the same qualities. Looking at these shows in the perspective of an anthropologist some disquieting trends emerge. I will present the information as if an outsider, from another nation, were watching American shows, and believed what he/she was seeing to be true of what goes on in America.
Perhaps more realistic than the other shows, NYPD BLUE, and HIGH INCIDENT represent the closest what life is really like. To a foreigner seeing these shows, they would probably believe that America is a blood bath of crime and ill will towards other people. While this isnıt true the whole nation over, there are many cities like those portrayed in these two shows. Like the other shows I will discuss, these two have casts made up of predominately Caucasian males and females. Other nationalities, such as Asian, Afro-American, and Latino are sprinkled in just enough to make sure the shows are politically correct. To an outsider this would show that white males dominate society and life in America. While this is certainly true in some respects, it is unfair to portray it as such on television. Television influences the minds of too many people to show one class or people dominating over another, even when it isnıt obvious to everyone.
NBCıs Thursday night line up begins with the block-buster show FRIENDS, and ends with the number one show, ER. In between are sandwiched more shows that have been hits. Every Thursday begins with two hours of comedy. First on the list is FRIENDS. To an outsider FRIENDS shows the perfect male dominates female role of our society. The girls are ditsy, the blond especially so. Of the three guy friends, only one seems to not have all his brains. Two of the three guys have steady, secure jobs. For the girls itıs three steady, but perhaps unsecure jobs, and poor paying. The character Rachel works at a coffee shop and Phoebe drives a cab, not exactly something to build careers on. The guys make more money, even the character Joey, whoıs job as an actor isnıt steady. Of course each girl is drop-dead gorgeous. To those watching in other countries, America is chalk full of pretty women waiting for a man to come sweep them off their feet. The next show, SINGLE GUY, has a slightly different message. America is also full of very happy married couples. The Single Guy himself is on a mission of marriage. Thatıs what the entire show is based on. So far an outsider comes to America, is gorgeous if youıre a woman, and a hunk if youıre a guy, has lots of