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Cities Portrayal over the years.

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I can't remember where I read this idea first; but there is a school of thought that suggests that television and the media are as much behind the rebirth of American (and possibly world) cities as government, planning or social reform.

The main point being: today's young adult generation grew up watching Seinfeld, Friends, Melrose Place, The Real World, etc- all of which not only took place in cities, but showed how vibrant, cathartic, exciting and fun city life could be.

Past generations grew up with a different spin on city-living watching the struggle and grit of Good Times, The Jeffersons, All in the Family, Miami Vice, 21 Jump Street.

And before that, older generations completely turned their back on city-life for an idealized suburban world in Leave it to Beaver, The Flintstones, and Beverly Hill Billies.

This commentary has made me watch TV differently - trying to decipher the social underpinnings of the setting of shows in relation to their time. I wonder if this topic interests anyone else and what you've found...

-In The Flinstones, the writers may have chosen to set Bedrock as a suburban town, but the art directors and animators certainly reinforced the idea by the infamous driving "background loop" of identical houses. You'll notice how strong the car culture is by the opening theme showing the Flintstones driving all over town together, going to the car-side-service rib-joint, and drive-in theater.

-Even The Jetsons, whose futuristic world may have actually been a city, showed a life where everyone's home was set far away in the clouds from their neighbor. No front porches, no front walks and even the sidewalks turned the "pedestrian" into an impersonal package to be delivered without any social or societal interaction. Again, the intro follows George driving all over town to pick up his kids from school, go to work, drop off Jane at the mall, and then back home to their reclusive pod in the sky.

I'll try to add more shows as I think of them and find time....anyone else got any?

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Sex in the City certainly glamorizes urban living. So does Frasier , with Seattle's dazzling skyline constantly seen through Dr. Crane's window. And while we're remembering Frasier , don't forget the original show, Cheers which was set in inner-city Boston.

I think this is a solid idea---contemporary television influencing people's living styles.

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great topic! think about the honeymooners which was set in the 50's in brooklyn; work was hard, opportunity was limited, space was claustrophobic, it had a bunch of ingredients of tragic comedy set in the inner city. suburbia was then often portrayed as the antithesis to the squalor of industrial city life. the 50's period was also when eisenhower championed the interstate highway system, which is often cited as a stimulus for suburbanization trends of the era.

a slight tangent: think now of how media portrayals have shaped folk's negative perception of parking garage safety. how often have we watched a tv show or watched movies where a mugging, a murder, or a rape occurs in some dimly lit parking garage? real life crime statistics don't really support folk's negative perception of these facilities.

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I would say it's really hard to make this case - that TV's portrayal influence people's thinking - without ignoring a lot of influential shows, or at least oversimplifying their real influence.

Past generations grew up with a different spin on city-living watching the struggle and grit of Good Times, The Jeffersons, All in the Family, Miami Vice, 21 Jump Street.

The first three were all Norman Lear shows - he started a wave of socially conscious programs that reflected the concerns people already had of urban decay at the time. Sure, they definitely influenced viewers' thinking of cities, but the shows themselves were products of what the viewers were already thinking.

The other two, Miami Vice and 21 Jump Street, were police dramas. Those have always taken place in gritty settings, from Adam-12 in the 50s to Law & Order today.

And before that, older generations completely turned their back on city-life for an idealized suburban world in Leave it to Beaver, The Flintstones, and Beverly Hill Billies.

That's true, but those shows were a reflection of the viewers watching it. They specifically targeted suburban audiences, who were the new key demographic watching prime time TV. The Flintstones and The Jetsons were parodies of the family sitcom formula, so of course they too would reflect suburbia in the same manner.

When social conservatism came back in the 80s, so did family sitcoms, and they were mostly engineered the same way. And then there's the outlier The Cosby Show... Likely the most watched show of the decade, but it was set in Brooklyn.

But even during this time, you still had popular adult-themed sitcoms, like Cheers and Murphy Brown, which took place in urban settings.

The main point being: today's young adult generation grew up watching Seinfeld, Friends, Melrose Place, The Real World, etc- all of which not only took place in cities, but showed how vibrant, cathartic, exciting and fun city life could be.

Cities were already coming back by the time these shows entered the fray. Generation X was known for its disillusionment with the suburban "American Dream" and was heavily settling in the cities. But you have to remember, Roseanne, Home Improvement, and The Wonder Years were still popular during this time too.

I guess my point is, there were a lot of shows people were watching, many of which don't exactly fit the narrative. I think a better way to look at it is to think backwards - how are shows reflective of people's thinking?

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I also think that Miami TV duo of the 1980s--- Miami Vice and Golden Girls must have helped Miami attract a few residents. People have already mentioned the sometimes grit of Miami Vice , but we can't forget that at the time Golden Girls was given the fond nickname of "Miami Nice".

I always thought the two shows together balanced Miami's personality---one exciting and dangerous, and the other sweet as pie and funny as hell!.:)

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