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III Television and the American Culture The Development of Love Relationships Within the Standard TV Sitcom and the Exclusion of True Gay Relationships For 25 years now gay and lesbian characters have been appearing here and there on prime-time television It all started when Billy Crystal debuted as Jodie Dallas on the ABC sitcom Soap in 1977 playing a gay member of a troubled family The history of gay characters on television has gone through several phases They range from the 1950s when there really werent any to the recent Ellen era Still till this day there has not been a successful show that depicts a long-term love relationship between same sex partners Love relationships as shown on the standard TV sitcom have become more realistic over the decades since televisions inception But perhaps love relationships have been glossed over since television began From its beginnings in the late forties and early fifties to present day television has offered us a mirror of everyday life that presumably represented the typical American family In recent years it has developed into a more realistic representation to appeal to a broader spectrum then in its past In the early 1950s the quintessential TV family was of course the Ricardos on I Love Lucy This shows format established a pattern that is still being used today One member of the couple usually the star of the show is always scheming or plotting how to get out of a certain situation while the other plays straight man to make a foil for the stars Antics and word play The antics of Lucy Ricardo were so absurd as to take on a cartoonist quality Any arguments with Ricky her husband centered on Lucy trying to get him to let her into his nightclub act or her budget While entertaining this is certainly not the sort of problem most
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