Has Television Been Ruined by Politics?

Ann Burns, Staff Writer

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Over the past year, politics have slowly come to the forefront of many conversations. This has become worrisome for some viewers who tune into television as a way to escape the ever present political conversations that seem to dominate modern day society. If we as a society have our own constantly changing opinions on politics, how do those opinions affect the way we view the television we watch daily?

Roseanne is a revival that brought along much controversy almost instantaneously when it was announced. The star of the show, Roseanne Barr, is a Trump supporter, much to the dismay of some fans of the original Roseanne. Barr is the creator of the protagonist in the show, also named Roseanne. The character is very much modeled after Barr herself, and consequently is a Trump supporter like Barr. This caused an uproar and some longtime fans boycotted the revival due to their political beliefs.

Would this have happened 10 years ago? Would politics play such a crucial factor in the decisions of the entertainment industry? Politics have gradually become more and more of  a priority to many Americans. Episodes in television have become less for entertainment and more of a political statement protesting or promoting a campaign or cause. According to a New York Times interview, Roseanne Barr claims that making her character a Trump supporter was a conscience decision based on current events relating to today’s society. “I just wanted to have that dialogue about families torn apart by the election and their political differences of opinion and how we handle it. I thought that this was an important thing to say at this time.” In this case, every episode of Roseanne had to do with making a political statement, commenting on American society. Many think that this is an essential aspect of the entertainment world, while others believe the exact opposite. Matt LeBlanc (Joey Tribbiani on Friends) states on an episode of Steve, “I think that the reason it [Friends] is still so relevant, is we never dealt with anything topical…nothing political, no current events.” He implies that a timeless classic can only come from staying away from controversial political discussions within the series. “It was always themes like love, and trust, and betrayal, and friendship, and family…things that never go out.” But does a show have to be timeless to be considered remarkable and iconic?

To become a classic, a show generally has to withstand generations and receive love from audiences of all ages and generations. But does a classic define good television? Is enjoyment the point of the entertainment industry, or has social awareness become its new target?

* photo via Google Images under the Creative Commons license

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Has Television Been Ruined by Politics?