This week, I researched the history of television in the United States to gain a better understanding on television today.
I watched the first episodes from the CNN original series, Seventies, Eighties, Nineties, and 2000s. Each series investigated the decades as a whole, and the first two episodes are centered around television. I learned that each decade’s history has contributed to the evolution of content on television. In the 1970’s, the family sitting around one TV set on a Friday night was the epitome of entertainment. Writer Norman Lear dominated the television industry and created the spin-off. Shows like All in the Family (1971-79), Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-77), and Happy Days (1974-84) made their mark on comedy and representation. For instance, All in the Family had a gay man story line while the Mary Tyler Moore Show showed the women protagonist could be a hero and relatable. The 1980’s was the beginning of dramatic television and the idea of celebrity became a part of pop culture. Shows like St.Elsewhere (1982-88) and Hill Street blues (1981-87) were the predecessors of crime shows such as Law and Order and ER. This decade in particular was the explosion of TV fan bases due to the new number of channels. In the 1990’s television was more developed, as networks were targeting different age groups. During this time, the family would watch their own programs with their own television sets. Teenagers were shown in a more realistic way with Beverly Hills 90210 (1990-2000) and My So-Called Life (1994-95) while nerd culture exploded with The X-Files (1993-2002) and Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997-2003). Lastly, in the 2000s, was the beginning of reality television with American Idol (2002-) and Survivor (2000-) the decade of the anti-hero with shows like Breaking Bad (2008-2013) and Dexter (2006-13). With this research, I learned about how rich and dynamic this piece of media is, which led to crime show genre I am studying today.