From I Love Lucy to Will & Grace, this book looks at the television comedies that have tackled social issues, facilitated discussion, or in some other way have broken down barriers. Other landmark shows discussed here include All in the Family, Ellen, The Golden Girls, Good Times, The Jeffersons, Maude, Modern Family, Roseanne, and Soap.
Robinson (The Disney Song Encyclopedia) delves into the social and cultural changes that have stemmed from 40 influential sitcoms in this solid history. This compendium uncovers how fictional characters changed American's perspectives on serious topics sex, race, politics, depression, war, gender roles through humor. Coverage of each show, from 1950s and '60s classic such as I Love Lucy and The Dick Van Dyke Show to today's Modern Family and Black-ish, runs around half a dozen pages, so these aren't comprehensive histories or analyses. Instead, Robinson focuses on the element of each show that made it groundbreaking, such as in 1968's Julie, which "centered around a black widowed female who juggled parenthood and a career." In other cases, Robinson touches on smaller aspects such as the concern that the pants Mary Tyler Moore wore on The Dick Van Dyke Show "wouldn't create any panty lines or noticeable crevices or creases in the wrong places"; the show one of the first to show women wearing pants sparked a trend in pedal pushers. Though sometimes leaving the reader wanting more detail, Robinson's astute history of groundbreaking sitcoms will likely have readers searching out reruns.