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  #421  
Old Posted Jan 21, 2022, 11:52 PM
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Well, the GenXer stereotype was that we were cynical, sarcastic and non-aspirational. Per movies like Slacker, Reality Bites, Singles, Trainspotting. Yeah, I was conditioned by my upbringing to question striving for wealth and power, an ideal of the 60s that was filtered through the cautionary tale of the 80s. We weren't going to change the world through peace and love (or by buying the world a Coke, more like!), as we'd seen how the Woodstock generation had turned into pastel-coloured corporate whores. Rather, we were stymied by what the point was of working for all of that if you just ended up coked out and divorced.

We wanted meaning. And we were left wanting.

I bought into that mentality hook, line and sinker. I really am a walking, talking GenX stereotype, I admit it. Naturally, it goes without saying that the Westerners pontificating about our meaningless existences were pampered middle class types who'd never had to worry about having food on the table. In 1994 I spent a month in Thailand contemplating the meaning of life and the boundless emptiness of the universe while being served mouth-watering curries by the children of cooks running beachside restaurant huts under towering palm trees.

Hindsight makes everything so easily caricatured!

Anti-heroes have been around for decades. The 90s weren't anything special in that regard. The other day I rewatched Taxi Driver. That was made in 1976. GenXers weren't rebelling against their parents. In fact, the Boomers were generally sympathetic to the GenX reticence to embrace corporate trappings.

^ Every ascending generation tries to find new and better meaning through clarification, it's an explicating quest but it isn't effectual or absolute in resolution or people like Timothy Leary & Alan Watts would have huge religious followings rivalling Jesus. There is only so much you can do to figure out existence in a lifetime, short of hanging pictures of ones navel on the wall to facilitate such contemplation with ease of viewing. Relax & enjoy the ride.
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  #422  
Old Posted Jan 22, 2022, 12:21 AM
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^ Every ascending generation tries to find new and better meaning through clarification, it's an explicating quest but it isn't effectual or absolute in resolution or people like Timothy Leary & Alan Watts would have huge religious followings rivalling Jesus. There is only so much you can do to figure out existence in a lifetime, short of hanging pictures of ones navel on the wall to facilitate such contemplation with ease of viewing. Relax & enjoy the ride.
It just is that, isn’t it?

When one reads about the Beat Generation searching for ‘it’, or Timothy Leary peddling enlightenment through acid for $3 a hit, or the jaded cynicism of Gen X as they already knew of the dead-ends before they even came of age, the theme is constant. The theme of searching for something more to life.

Even the Millennials - in that brief window before reality ran them over (moreso in the United States than here) - thought they were leading the charge for something greater. Not sure if the Zoomers even care, or hold that optimism though.

Alas, reality doesn’t care. The churn continues on.
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  #423  
Old Posted Jan 22, 2022, 1:49 PM
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When one reads about the Beat Generation searching for ‘it’, or Timothy Leary peddling enlightenment through acid for $3 a hit, or the jaded cynicism of Gen X as they already knew of the dead-ends before they even came of age, the theme is constant. The theme of searching for something more to life.
I remember my class Val speech ('90) overall vibe being basically "experts say it's gonna suck for us". So yeah, I think we might have been the ones to see the dead-ends looming. Thankfully it looks like Mil/Z are alt least finding alternate coping mechanisms instead of just getting grouchy like us.
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  #424  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2022, 1:57 PM
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I was born in 1969. Back in the late 80s, I recall reading articles about how Gen-X was totally screwed: Squeezed out of the lucrative job market (and housing market) by the (greedy) boomers, but with likely higher tax rates to pay for all the boomers once they retired en masse. No doubt, the boomers (especially the ones born in the early 50s) had it easier in terms of access to jobs, education, and housing, coupled with lower taxation rates. I fear that the current generation will be even more screwed; however, given the insane price levels of housing coupled with stagnating, below-inflation wage/salary increases, and (the day of covid-spending reckoning will come sooner or later) higher taxes/reduced social spending. Oh, and something called climate change.
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  #425  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2022, 5:20 PM
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Originally Posted by MolsonExport View Post
I was born in 1969. Back in the late 80s, I recall reading articles about how Gen-X was totally screwed: Squeezed out of the lucrative job market (and housing market) by the (greedy) boomers, but with likely higher tax rates to pay for all the boomers once they retired en masse. No doubt, the boomers (especially the ones born in the early 50s) had it easier in terms of access to jobs, education, and housing, coupled with lower taxation rates. I fear that the current generation will be even more screwed; however, given the insane price levels of housing coupled with stagnating, below-inflation wage/salary increases, and (the day of covid-spending reckoning will come sooner or later) higher taxes/reduced social spending. Oh, and something called climate change.
Yeah, my generation and Gen Z (not to mention those after) are inheriting a shit sandwich of environmental and economic hardship. Housing is becoming a full blown crisis in this country. It's hard to feel optimistic when the billionaire class is looking to colonize space in cock rockets rather than meaningfully tackle climate change and speculative housing is becoming a pillar of the economy. I envy Gen X.
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  #426  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2022, 5:37 PM
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The Simpsons were the most popular show in the world for years - a mundane, normal family that contrasted heavily against wholesome families as they were portrayed in the 80s (Full House, Cosby Show, etc.). They swore and failed and weren't affluent. Ren & Stimpy, Beavis & Butthead. It's easy to see why these would be appealing considering what came before them and the mold that had been set and expected. The Simpsons weren't perfect and they displayed something which was very counter to the American Dream that had been set up for decades on American TV.

Bingeing Seinfeld when it showed up on Netflix made this transition really apparent. The first few seasons felt like they were treading lightly around the censors and a sensitive, socially conservative society. Hence they'd talk about "the naked channels" and pretend not to drink alcohol. But that's also the surprisingly rich earth from which classics like "master of your domain" sprang.

By the middle of the series they're shouting about pornos like it's nothing. As the series progresses the characters get worse; they lose a lot of their charming traits, their flaws become glaring. By the end it's kind of nasty. The finale reflects it.

The thing is though, TV in the '80s was a regression from TV in the '70s--at least from what I've seen. I'd love to hear what some older forumers think, but my impression is that shows like All in the Family and Taxi were way more challenging and liberal than anything in the '80s.


I mean, this; https://youtu.be/j-c4cd_Lm-Q is a lot even for the '90s.
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  #427  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2022, 5:50 PM
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Bingeing Seinfeld when it showed up on Netflix made this transition really apparent. The first few seasons felt like they were treading lightly around the censors and a sensitive, socially conservative society. Hence they'd talk about "the naked channels" and pretend not to drink alcohol. But that's also the surprisingly rich earth from which classics like "master of your domain" sprang.

By the middle of the series they're shouting about pornos like it's nothing. As the series progresses the characters get worse; they lose a lot of their charming traits, their flaws become glaring. By the end it's kind of nasty. The finale reflects it.

The thing is though, TV in the '80s was a regression from TV in the '70s--at least from what I've seen. I'd love to hear what some older forumers think, but my impression is that shows like All in the Family and Taxi were way more challenging and liberal than anything in the '80s.


I mean, this; https://youtu.be/j-c4cd_Lm-Q is a lot even for the '90s.
I think the show shifted from being about banal situations (i.e. a show about nothing) to focus more on how neurotic the characters were. I loved the later seasons. Not surprisingly George is my favourite character.

Peak Seinfeld:

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  #428  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2022, 6:11 PM
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Dude, George eating the eclair out of the garbage...

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Originally Posted by O-tacular View Post
I think the show shifted from being about banal situations (i.e. a show about nothing) to focus more on how neurotic the characters were. I loved the later seasons. Not surprisingly George is my favourite character.
Yeah George is the best. It's pretty great; I've gone almost directly into Curb from Seinfeld and contrasting George with his fictionalized IRL inspiration is delightful. George never met a lie he wouldn't triple down on; Larry just quits on life itself every time he's caught.
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  #429  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2022, 6:15 PM
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Dude, George eating the eclair out of the garbage...



Yeah George is the best. It's pretty great; I've gone almost directly into Curb from Seinfeld and contrasting George with his fictionalized IRL inspiration is delightful. George never met a lie he wouldn't triple down on; Larry just quits on life itself every time he's caught.
It's funny I've never watched that. I can't believe it's been on for like 20 years. I like Larry David but never had HBO at the beginning to get into it.
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  #430  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2022, 6:16 PM
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Dude, George eating the eclair out of the garbage...
George eating the pastrami sandwich during sex...

The Summer of George...

The handicapped bathroom...

Festivus...

Frogger...
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  #431  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2022, 6:21 PM
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Bingeing Seinfeld when it showed up on Netflix made this transition really apparent. The first few seasons felt like they were treading lightly around the censors and a sensitive, socially conservative society. Hence they'd talk about "the naked channels" and pretend not to drink alcohol. But that's also the surprisingly rich earth from which classics like "master of your domain" sprang.

By the middle of the series they're shouting about pornos like it's nothing. As the series progresses the characters get worse; they lose a lot of their charming traits, their flaws become glaring. By the end it's kind of nasty. The finale reflects it.

The thing is though, TV in the '80s was a regression from TV in the '70s--at least from what I've seen. I'd love to hear what some older forumers think, but my impression is that shows like All in the Family and Taxi were way more challenging and liberal than anything in the '80s.


I mean, this; https://youtu.be/j-c4cd_Lm-Q is a lot even for the '90s.
Looking back at American lists of "top TV shows" from the 80s, it does seem like the 80s had a dearth of provocative programs. The vast majority of shows were soft and comfortable.

Arguably the two best shows of the decade, Cheers and The Wonder Years, while they may have some deeper moments, were very much feel-good programming.

I think there might be a few factors responsible for this. For starters, a whole bunch of stuff had already been "done" in the 70s, aside from All in the Family and Taxi.

For example:

- divorce and blended families: Brady Bunch
- urban ethno-cultural diversity: Welcome Back Kotter
- African-Americans front and centre: Good Times and Sanford and Son
- the psychological effects of war: MASH
- a woman striking out on her own when a man ditches her: Mary Tyler Moore
- Hispanics front and centre: Chico and the Man
- First openly gay character: Soap

Even though Cosby Show was often heralded as the first show to feature affluent African-Americans, in fact The Jeffersons beat them to it a decade earlier.

All of this was probably related to the fact that the boomers were moving out of their edgy contestation phase (they still had it in them when they started their careers and took control of the TV industry in the 70s) to a more mature, settled-down mindset in the 80s.
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  #432  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2022, 6:25 PM
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I'm guessing part of it also had to do with Reaganism.
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  #433  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2022, 6:26 PM
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I think the show shifted from being about banal situations (i.e. a show about nothing) to focus more on how neurotic the characters were. I loved the later seasons. Not surprisingly George is my favourite character.
George was great. Elaine as well and easy on the eye. Kramer was Kramer...good to have across the hall..not necessarily as your room mate.

Jerry was bland and couldn't act his way out of a paper bag. His Coffee with Cars show is boring I find other than the occasional car he drives. His narrow outlook on the world and his general un-worldliness comes across loud and clear in the show.
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  #434  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2022, 6:30 PM
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I'm guessing part of it also had to do with Reaganism.
Which was also hugely related to the mellowing out of the 1960s flower children.
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  #435  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2022, 6:31 PM
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Which was also hugely related to the mellowing out of the 1960s flower children.
I wouldn't call it mellowing out so much as lifting the drawbridge now that they had entered the promised land.
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  #436  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2022, 6:56 PM
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I wouldn't call it mellowing out so much as lifting the drawbridge now that they had entered the promised land.
That too. Definitely.
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  #437  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2022, 7:05 PM
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The Jeffersons >> The Cosbys

It wasn't even close.

And that toe-tapping, great theme song...
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  #438  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2022, 7:15 PM
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I'm guessing part of it also had to do with Reaganism.
There were for sure a number of factors at play:
  • The apparent resolution of go-to hot button issues, including the Vietnam War and the traditional dimensions of the Civil Rights/Women's lib movements
  • The ideological crisis that the "Sex Wars" posed to the feminist movement as a unified political voice, which complicated the discourse and made feminist narratives a harder sell
  • The mostly white, mostly male backlash against disco and the narratives that genre represented; namely, those of women, people of colour and queer people
  • The increased organization of the Evangelical "moral majority" right, leading to the amplification of right-wing outrage culture (including the SRA panic)
  • The increasingly visible crack and AIDS crises, topics which were both difficult to tackle on television and too intense/scary to touch in the most popular TV genres (e.g., sitcoms)
  • More moms at work and more TVs in the house meant more unsupervised media consumption for kids, which led to some anxiety about appropriate content
Of course, there were American sitcoms that continued to tackle tough issues or push the envelop: The Golden Girls and Designing Women come to mind, for example.
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  #439  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2022, 7:15 PM
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^good point about escapism from a world that was dealing with some really tough topics.

Thanks for the rundown of those shows, Acajack. It's pretty interesting to reflect on these big cultural shifts. From here it's possible to see all of these things--duller television, aging boomers, wealthier boomers--as different facets of the same phenomenon.



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George was great. Elaine as well and easy on the eye. Kramer was Kramer...good to have across the hall..not necessarily as your room mate.

Jerry was bland and couldn't act his way out of a paper bag. His Coffee with Cars show is boring I find other than the occasional car he drives. His narrow outlook on the world and his general un-worldliness comes across loud and clear in the show.
When I was a kid I thought that one of the conceits of Seinfeld was that Jerry was a shitty comedian. In his standup segments on the show he always seems like he's one heckler away from bombing.

I understand now that he kind of invented the "what's the deal with x" style of comedy that seemed so hokey and played out in the '90s. He even pokes fun at himself for it in the show, most famously through Bania and the "What's the deal with Ovaltine" joke.

And, of course, in the show he isn't actually as successful as he is in real life. It's like the story of his career distorted by the present in which he tells it--in which his career has already preceded what happens. It was a brilliant show.
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  #440  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2022, 7:30 PM
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The '80s definitely had more risque films being produced, although that was a sector I suppose not as censored as television. And many such films were not mainstream (eg anything by David Cronenberg), although films such as Robocop reference the cocaine culture of the era.
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