In 30 Rock, Comedy Writers Write a Comedy TV Show

Wednesday, July 20, 2022 • 11:40 EDT

Lately I’ve been working through some old criterion collection movies with my family, and the first thing you notice with old movies or TV is how happy everyone is. It is very funny, but not one of the characters could be described as happy. Are the characters in Shakespeare happy? In The Dick Van Dyke Show all the characters (including Mary Tyler Moore, the singing/dancing talented housewife) are portrayed as being extremely happy. Think of 30 Rock, a TV show about comedy writers writing a comedy TV show. Hamlet, an obvious example of depression, sure, but in many of the other plays there are extremely happy characters. The setup (comedy writers working at a sketch comedy TV show) is identical to that of 1961’s The Dick Van Dyke Show (also about comedy writers working at a sketch comedy TV show). The tendency for culture to become more unhappy can be seen most clearly in long-running franchises, like Star Trek, since they control for more variables—i.e., it’s the same lore and world presented in separate time periods. ( Continue reading.

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