Family obligations are often at the heart of individual drive and guilt. They can drive a person to succeed and they can drive a person to do things that go against their very nature. In the film Alice Adams, the play Buried Child and the television series Everybody Loves Raymond the concepts of family obligation are the underlying motive to plot and action. The thing that is the same about these three programs on the thought of family obligation is that all of the characters do things for each other in the name of family obligation that they really don't believe to be the best thing for the individual they are trying to help.
In Alice Adams, Alice's not so glamorous family must make attempts to put on a show for her when she tries to improve her social status, not because they think there is a real need for her to become more than she is or because they understand her desire to but because Alice believes it will make her happy and her family wants her to be happy. The challenge of upward mobility is especially great in the classes that are being discussed here because the risk of personal degradation and humiliation is great, yet out of obligation to their daughter Alice's parents still make attempts to help their daughter win her place in the upper middle class of their small town.
In Buried Child the difficulty of family obligations result in the downward evolution of the entire family group. Each individual is in some way destroyed by the difficult secret they hide about the secret birth and death of a child born to Halie by a man other than her husband. When Dodge (Halie's Husband) drowns the child and buries it in the back yard, the whole family is left with the burden of hiding the secret of the family, even though they watch their own demise as a result. The land and their individual sanity climb steadily down from this point all because they individually chose to allow their family obligations to dictate their choices.
In Everybody Loves Raymond and Debra's relationship and marriage is often threatened by the relationship that Raymond has with his family. This is especially true of his relationship with his mother, a woman who's expectations are often much different than reality. In everybody loves Raymond Debra must find countless ways to keep herself and her marriage protected from the meddling of Raymond's mother, Maria. Raymond on the other hand is often left wondering what is so bad about the situation as he grovels back favor from Maria. Raymond knows that if he just didn't listen to his family half of the time his marriage with Debra would be stronger but he seems unable to control it and is often shrugging as if he has no control over the situation.
Alice Adams, Buried Child and Everybody Loves Raymond are examples of the theme of drama on the one case and humor in the other that exists in families and family interaction. Family obligations are often a theme of entertainment because both they are inherent and because everyone can commiserate with the reality of the difficulty people face when they try to meet the obligations of their family ties.
Social interactions often seem to be the defining addition to character of any kind. The more or the less of the ability to interact with people or situations that you have never encountered is often a factor that makes someone seem strong or weak. Being flexible and allowing unknowns to make you as better person is crucial to personal development. In the film Matewan, the play Angels in America and the television series The Wonder Years the changes that occur with the characters are largely positive and due to growth by social exposure.
In Matewan the intercultural conglomerations between the Immigrant Italians, the local whites and the immigrant blacks from the Deep South makes social conditions challenging. When they have to learn to work together to get their demands met there are many tensions related to racial differences and simply lack of personal exposure to any sort of multicultural understanding. Each individual is changed by their personal exposure to the different groups and almost across the board each one learns to see more similarities and builds stronger personal respect for the others.
In Angels in America the extreme social situations that engulf a group of individuals surrounding terminal illness can be seen as the main theme for change. Through the play many people face the differences of their own personal lives vs. The lives of people who are both losing loved ones through the AIDS epidemic and losing themselves. Probably the most startling change would be the Mormon women Hannah who intervenes in her daughters marriage, to try to help her put it back together and yet faces a whole set of social circumstances otherwise foreign to her. The change in her is apparent when she realizes that her opinions about AIDS are only partly true and that all of the trappings of terminal illness are universal regardless of the reality by which a person gets the disease.
In The Wonder Years the whole point of the plot is the ways that strange or different social situations alter the main character, Kevin and make him into a mature adult. Though it often seems that the person who needs the most social shock is his father. Kevin's maturity is based on the unending set of social challenges he faces through his relatively small social circle. Everything from dating for the first time to facing the realities of how the Vietnam War changes the landscape of the country are used as tools of exposure, and therefore change and maturity for Kevin and his group of friends.
Matewan, Angels in America and The Wonder Years are all examples of different takes on the theme of personal development. In each very different situation the main characters must face social situations that are new and foreign in an attempt to gain more personal control and understand their world better. Concerns and problems that face us all can be seen reflected in these three media.
Often what a person chooses as leisure activity can reveal who they are and who they wish to be in their world. When some one feels like they want to become a part of another world they go see a movie or simply go out onto the sidewalk and watch other people's lives pass by. In the silent film City Lights, the television series Seinfeld and the television series Sex in the City this is true of all the characters, they all want to be a bigger part of the whole and they all want more fulfilling personal lives.
In City Lights, Chaplin already feels like an outsider and at the same time he wishes to be a part of the world that he has been rejected from, so his leisure is spent wandering, seemingly aimlessly about the city looking for interactions that he can have with people more accepted in the main stream. He looks in shop windows and pretends to be important, he wishes for the real love of the blind girl even though he knows she thinks he is someone else entirely. All of these things are done with Chaplin's signature nonchalance, the quick dancing step as he wanders around on the fringes of real life both realizing he is on the outside and pretending he is not.
In Seinfeld the characters of often spend time going to movies and interacting with each other as if they are the characters of those movies. They dissect situations in their lives as if they are of the utmost importance even though in the end they are not. Leisure activity in Seinfeld often consists of simply sitting around talking about things that have happened in their lives independent of one another. They all seem to want to find universal answers about life through each other's daily experiences, even though they never seem to acknowledge that just sitting around talking about it will probably never change anything.
In Sex and the City, the characters also spend a lot of time wandering around looking at the world and hoping it becomes something different. The characters can often be found sitting with each other in a restaurant and talking about the things in their lives they both like and regret. The regret of their longing to be different either like each other or like someone else they admire is the theme almost everyday. They are all single and it seems that their greatest wishes revolve around the leisure activities that must be involved in changing that very fact, clubbing and restaurant going are all mainstays in their task, yet it seems they spend more time meeting people away from each other because when they are together they are inside their own little…