cover image Honey, I'm Home!: Sitcoms, Selling the American Dream

Honey, I'm Home!: Sitcoms, Selling the American Dream

Gerard Jones. Grove/Atlantic, $18.95 (291pp) ISBN 978-0-8021-1308-5

Jones, coauthor of The Beaver Papers, proves a perceptive and penetrating observer of pop culture. At the outset he makes it clear that the TV sitcom is ``a corporate product . . . a mass consumption commodity,'' yet does not downplay its importance as an indicator of public taste and, more importantly, as a molder of that taste. He also points out that situation comedy from the '50s to the '90s has had the same plotline: a character develops a desire that runs counter to the welfare of the group (whether family, office staff or dedicated barflies) and eventually abandons his or her selfish goals. Jones analyzes past comedies for their regional and age-group appeal, offering thoughtful comments on shows from I Love Lucy through All in the Family to The Simpsons. Those who regard television with contempt may consider that Jones uses a bulldozer on a sandcastle, but can anyone deny his argument that TV sitcoms are enormously influential? Photos not seen by PW. (Feb.)