The George Lopez Show

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Thesis: While situational comedies have conventionally displayed men as irrational and boisterous and women as creative buffoons, the George Lopez Show intertwined those concepts with the intricacies of class, ethnicity, gender and power.


I. A Brief History of The American Situational Comedy

a. Where it all began? - Situational comedies arose out of the popular comedy-variety shows of the 1950s. I Love Lucy would be the first comedy to change the face of television in several ways including portraying women as clever goofs. Men as a contrast were exhibited as boisterous and always upset or disgruntled. These elements would set a trend in the situation comedies that lasted many years.

b. Comparison between situational comedy, then and now - Situational comedy popularity has fluctuated throughout the decades. Television networks have often increased the amount of situational comedies that are on but when comparing then to now, there are a substantially less amount overall and the depictions of men and women have also changed.

II. The George Lopez Show

a. A brief description of the show

i. History -The George Lopez Show accomplished several specific aspects: it was the first show since Chico and the Man to feature a predominant quantity of Hispanic comedic material; it portrayed the Hispanic father in a leading context in a situational comedy when there had been a lack of Latinos appearing on television as the leading role; and it provided Americans (and comedy watchers) with a different cultural perspective of Latinos on television.

ii. Plot - Set in Los Angeles, George Lopez stars as a factory plant manager who juggles the responsibility of his career along with his two children, marriage, mother and niece.

b. Leading characters and their significance - The leading characters in the George Lopez show included George; his wife, Angie; his mother, Benny; his two children: Max and Carmen and his best friend, Ernie; who is not mentioned in the About George Lopez description but played a significant role in George's life. While the show sought to provide Latinos a prominent portrayal on television, the conventional elements of the situational comedy were present but often blended with the contemporary comedic perspectives of the changes in gender roles. ,

III. Analysis of the Sitcom Father

a. Variations of the sitcom father role

i. Class - While the elements of the sitcom evoke the message that the father is loud and often irrational, there are quite a few differences along the lines of class. Socioeconomic status factors heavily into portrayals. Given the conventional perception of the man being the breadwinner, viewers tend to expect the father to offer support to his family on the sitcom. This societal perception has been destroyed however by the neutral and negative dynamics of the male characters being portrayed as hostile and over the top and also by the ethnicity of the father on the sitcom.

ii. Ethnicity - Ethnic perceptions have affected sitcom ratings if the father is shown a certain way that is opposite the societal outlook. For example, a Latino father in a prominent role versus being the hired help or someone's friend on the show.

b. Sitcom father stereotypes

i. Common Latino father stereotypes - Latinos have traditionally been underrepresented or had non-prominent roles on sitcoms. Stereotypes of the "criminal, law enforcer, Latin lover, the harlot and the comic/buffoon are usually illustrated in Latinos on television.

ii. American father stereotypes - The American father is often generalized as being both comforting and supporting. Racial identity significantly factors in these generalizations as well as the selection of actors to play the role of the traditional American father (i.e. Caucasian) as to preserve the conservative attitudes of what the sitcom father looks like. ,

IV. Sitcom Father versus Sitcom Mother

a. The portrayal of women

i. Role - Scholars point out that women in situational comedies are contained in order to execute the comic spectacle and that women usually bear the brunt of most of the emphasis and make most of the jokes.

ii. Stereotypes - illustrated as being in the home (i.e. cooking, cleaning) primarily, even in the sitcoms of today. Many analyses have offered that because of the stereotypical imagery of women on sitcoms has only nominally evolved that it hinders the progression of Latina women in society and how they are perceived.

b. Interactions: Mother versus Father

i. Children - Given the dynamics of gender, children are seen as playing off of their mother and father in terms of comedy. In earlier sitcoms, the children interacted more with the father, while analyses have found that children interact more with women in modern sitcoms. ,

ii. Other family members – these individuals tend to tell jokes centered around or on the father.

iii. Themselves – the sitcom father ensures that the stereotypes are held in place despite the fact that society has changed and evolved.



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