Sitcom to the Modern Family Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

S.'s status as a nation of immigrants is not something that should be consigned to its past. However, everyone will be able to appreciate the experience of being in a family, the tensions of family roles, and the discrepancy between the real and the ideal in familes.

The sitcom, although it is very family-focused, will also feature two single mothers as the main protagonists. The financial and emotional struggles of the women will not be shied away from, although there will be an ultimately positive and affirming message about the nature of familial love to sustain people through difficult times. Even when families are not 'conventional' they can still be supportive and loving. This can also be seen in shows such as Modern Family, which feature a blended cast of people of different ethnicities and sexualities.

Even the Simpsons can be seen as an example of how the traditional family can be used to tackle contemporary issues in a bracing, unusual, yet ultimately affirmative fashion. The Simpsons are a conventional family of a mother, father, brother, and two sisters, but even though they often exhibit conventional gender and age dynamics (the father tries to control the mother, the children vie for parental attention), the surreal universe of the story highlights unconventional aspects of what it means to be in an American family.

However, unlike Modern Family and the Simpsons, the focus in Running Water is on the Latino experience and is told from the perspective of Latinos. There is also a very strong female, feminist focus in the sitcom upon the specific struggles of women trying to make their way in the world alone. Martha and Ivette come from a very patriarchal culture, and the difficulties of negotiating their own independence, raising sons, and pursuing relationships with men will also feature prominently.

The focus upon the clash of the personalities of the two women and its relationship-directed focus also make it uniquely tailored for a sitcom format. Humor and dialogue will be a very important component of the show's appeal, and will also give it 'crossover' appeal to non-Hispanics because of the focus on the dialogue. The contrasting personalities of Martha and Ivette will drive the show. For example, in the pilot, the two women fight over whether it was a good decision for them to immigrate to Cuba. Martha tries to throw a block party for everyone at the apartment complex, in an effort to meet people and to fit in. However, her attempts to have a traditional Cuban roast prove to be difficult out on the street. As Martha tries to shop for the feast, Ivette makes a running commentary about how bad the food is in America and how impossible it will be to recreate the type of open air cookouts the two of them loved so much in Cuba. Martha cannot cook the pork roast she bought, and none of the foods she selected are what she thought they were. Ivette saves the day by fixing everyone grilled cheese sandwiches using her ironing board. "In America, you can bring anything to make a party," says Ivette.

Culture clashes will also be manifest in the encounters of the women's sons in school. It is only natural for young children to want to assimilate, so the plot of another episode will revolve around both sons' attempts to impress pretty girls at their schools. One boy will try to be 'whiter' because he thinks it will impress a girl; another boy will try to play up his Latino heritage to a ridiculous amount to seem more exotic. Eventually, the episode will conclude with both boys concluding that they need to 'be themselves,' not try to refashion themselves into stereotypes.

Running Water will be funny, but it will also contain many 'teachable moments.' Although its initial audience is likely to skew Latino, hopefully over time it will begin to build a larger audience. A sitcom with characters that are having a recognizably Latino and immigrant experience, yet are well-rounded characters and people can relate to could be ground-breaking in terms of how it changes people's viewpoints of what it means to be an American.

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