With today’s society being much more open and accepting about many different topics, the material content used as entertainment in many comedies is becoming more and more controversial. Popular television shows such as Absolutely Fabulous, FamilyGuy and American Dad! are consistently proving that jokes focusing on risque topics such asabortion, religion, alcohol anddrug abuse, sexism, racismand even the subject of disabilities are more entertaining and therefore, despite some audiences watching these shows in horror, they are becoming more and more socially acceptable.
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Entertainment of the past was rather held back when compared to what is on television today. This raises the question, are modern comedy sitcoms too controversial? In 1992, the BBC aired the British comedy Absolutely Fabulous, introducing viewers to two of the most self-indulgent and irresponsible women to have ever graced our television screens. This show which was created by the wonderful Jennifer Saunders, focused on two champagne-swigging, chain-smoking, outrageously past-their-prime characters – Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone.
These two characters made popping pills, drink driving and harassing Edina’s straight laced daughter a regular occurrence. Socially, if these characters were “ real people”, their crazy antics would not be accepted within today’s society. This hilarious show however, has won its creator two BAFTA awards, seven Emmy awards and three British Comedy Awards (The Coffee Junkie, WordPress: 2010). Animated comedy’s controversial material as exemplified by Family Guy and American Dad! both of which were created by Seth Macfarlane, continue to push the boundaries due to the profanities, animated nudity, racism, sexism, Nazism, violence, abortion and almost every other risque topic one could possibly think of, referenced in these shows. Family Guy is one of the most controversial television shows currently on the air, and due to the nature of its material, complaints were made resulting in the show being cancelled.
This show was cancelled not once however, but twice. Family Guy has been subject to much criticism, especially over its handling of sensitive issues such as HIV / AIDS and Down Syndrome, however, after extremely strong petitioning from such a large fan base, TV Executives put the show back on air, not wanting to risk losing such a large following. The result of this then provides the evidence that offensive humour is the key to a modern comedy’s success.
Entertainment of the past has dramatically been transformed to suit the tastes of today’s audience. Creators are favouring television shows which constantly push the boundaries of political correctness. Society, it appears, is now more than happy to welcome this extremely cheeky form of entertainment into their homes. Gone are the days of sitting around the coffee table with TV dinners on your lap, watching shows such as Family Ties or Full House with the entire family.
So the question, once again, has been raised as to whether comedy sitcoms are too controversial and in this day and age, it would seem that to find this form of humour offensive is considered prudish. In order to succeed, one must be at least one step ahead. Therefore, with society’s views on such topics easing up, entertainment must change as well. These shows may be extremely controversial, and will continue to be so. Just keep in mind that a good laugh has never done anyone any harm.