Start at 5:59 or watch the whole thing, it’s not their best sketch but representative of a recent political situation. In the clip above, the set up of the skit is in the popular “deal or no deal” show in which Kenan Thompson plays Steve Harvey and Alec Baldwin reprises his popular portrayal of Donald Trump. Trump chooses briefcases in which politicians are holding different values (in the briefcase) or they are shown saying or doing something that represents their perceived character. For example, Senator Cory Booker opens his briefcase to simply exclaim “Booker 2020!” because of his well-known candidacy for the upcoming election. Senator Mitch McConnell is also shown referencing his shy turtle-like demeanor and in a next scene as a reference to being blind-folded like in the popular drama film, Bird Box. In this skit there are obvious caricatures of political officials and pop culture icons such as Cardi B. If you are a person watching SNL, it is clear that you must have an affinity for comedy, politics, or popular culture. There are thousands of examples of sketches similar to these as well as ones dealing with less political concepts and more menial references with silly or surprising characters.

Saturday Night Live (SNL) is the longest running network television program in the United States and first aired in 1975 (then called “NBC’s Saturday night). There is typically a celebrity guest star introducing the show and a musical performance in the middle, in addition to the either lengthy or short (5-15 minute) skits throughout the show’s time slot. SNL reflects our society from a comedic and typically liberal perspective on politicized content and a representation of popular culture phenomena and terminology (ex: using words like “lit”, which may also translate to “youth or millennial” culture). Thusly, SNL can also be reduced to a random selection of capitol hill critiques and framed productions of comedic characters and situations that a wide range of media-consuming Americans can interpret. The selected audience for SNL is likely middle-class, politically-aware, socially-aware (or keeps up with popular culture) and liberal-leaning. In terms of a family audience, it may be that in the past families watched SNL together in the living room but today with online streaming perhaps it is a less common occurrence.

Violence, Nudity, and Vulgar Language in Rick and Morty

Nikki Hoseus

A recent television series that shows how the end of the television code affected the portrayal of sex, violence and other “risqué” scenes is Rick and Morty.

Rick and Morty is a cartoon that involves mythical creatures and worlds that are surrounded by violence, profanity, alcohol abuse, and dysfunctional family relationships. This is typical of television in this day and age. However, this show would never air, let alone get approved by a network before television code was done away with. Television codes were standards that networks followed for their shows in regards for family viewing purposes, adult approval, and steered clear of nudity, violence, or bad language. These standards were instilled because television was so new and centered around family values.

One specific episode that includes vulgar language, nudity, and extreme violence is Episode 6, Season 3, titled “Rest and Ricklaxation”. This episode aired August 27, 2017. The specific scene I have chosen to analyze is the fight scene between the main character, Rick and his evil self, Toxic/Evil Rick. In this clip, Evil Rick begins by swearing at Rick. These curse words are not censored, unless they include the F word. After Evil Rick and Rick cuss each other out they begin to physically fight. Blood splatters everywhere and furniture is destroyed. At times, the fight occurs in front of Rick’s younger grandchildren.

Before the end of the television code a show, especially a cartoon, would not include any of these indecent aspects. The Network Era, also known as the Broadcast Era, was between the 1940s to the 1980s, only aired television shows that were created specifically household viewing. These series were centered around family. They typically depicted a house wife, her husband and their family. They had kid-friendly humor that also related to the adults. Even during the Post Network Era, which occurred between the 1980s and 2000s, television was not taboo.

Rick and Morty, is a series that definitely shows how standards, values, and entertainment have changed since the end of television code. The specific episode I analyzed has scenes and events that networks, and producers would never dream of airing or writing. In a matter of forty years people consider this type of television normal and do not consider it shocking at all. Whereas, people would riot or boycott television if this was broadcasted in the Network Era or Post Network Era.

The New Steve Irwin: Youtube Edition

“I’m Coyote Peterson. Be Brave. Stay Wild. We’ll see you on the next adventure”.

     The quote above is the signature catchphrase by the Youtube sensation Nathaniel Peterson, also known as Coyote Peterson by his online channel Brave Wilderness which has fourteen million subscribers and growing. He is known for being a wildlife educator which is exactly what he does twice a week when he uploads. Each episode begins with a little clip of what’s to come later to get the viewers interested, this a common technique used by youtubers. He then proceeds to show either the landscape of where the topic animal is from or a quick summary of the last episode to keep viewers caught up. Another technique of his and Youtube in general is to capitalize the title of the video to make it seem more urgent, and to exaggerate the thumbnail image to get people more intrigued. In each episode Coyote introduces a new animal and tells us interesting facts about it. These facts will include the scientific name of the creature, its diet, where and what kind of environment it lives in, and its predators. His most popular videos are the ones when he includes the segment the “sting zone”. This consists of his finding insects with the highest pain/sting index and stinging himself so that people know what it feels like.

       The Convergence Era is the most modern phase in TV history; it is the era where people are able to watch TV online whenever or wherever, avoid commercials (for the most part), have access to millions of channels or apps, and lastly watch what specifically interests them like animals. That is exactly what Youtube and Brave Wilderness does. Nowadays you can watch TV in color, and you don’t have to worry about missing an episode and never finding out what happens. Now, it is most likely that you can get up to date by finding the episode you missed on Youtube, or better yet, on the network’s website. What is posted on Youtube is there forever (unless the owner decides to take it down) unlike old TV shows that depend on reruns that don’t always happen. What Coyote Peterson and others on Youtube do is a new creative way of making money, and the new and improved form of television.

–Gabby Vasquez

Televisuals- Breaking Bad

In 2008, AMC premiered its hit drama series Breaking Bad. Throughout five thrilling seasons, the show follows high school chemistry teacher, Walter White, who is afraid his life can not get much worse. He had recently been diagnosed with cancer while his wife is pregnant with his second child and he does not have the funds to support a new child let alone pay for his cancer treatment. He decides to join forces with former student and high school dropout, Jesse Pinkman to start cooking meth in an old RV to start making money to be able to pay for his cancer treatments. 

The scene I chose was originally from season 4 episode 6 titled “Cornered.” The entire scene takes place in the bedroom of Walter and his wife Skyler. Prior to the conversation a person very close to Walter is killed after someone enters his home and shoots him from point-blank range. Skyler is worried that Walter is next but little does she know he’s the one responsible for this man dying. She is pleading with him to go to the police for help and to try to back out of this new business venture he’s apart of before that same thing happens to him. He then explains that if he were apart of that scenario he’d be, ‘the one who knocks.” 

This can be looked at as an example of how much programming has changed since the beginning of the Post-Network era. For example, even though this scene only takes place in one room, it still shows multiple camera angles for the duration of the clip. When looking at the average television show from the network era, almost every scene takes place in one room from one camera angle. Another example that could be used is the dialogue and the conflicts throughout the series. In shows like The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, the characters would encounter whatever conflict and then resolve it by the end of the episode. Not only is the dialogue much more intense and serious, the conflicts are often not resolved by the end of the episode. This show is like many early shows in the Post-Network era like Hill Street Blues that uses cliff-hangers to keep audiences involved so they will tune in next week to find out what happens next to Walter and Jesse. 

Teachable Moments in The Andy Griffith Show

The Andy Griffith Show, season three episode twenty-one called “Opie and the Spoiled Kid” aired on February 18th 1963 where Andy explains to Opie the value of hard work. Opie is Andy’s son and, in this episode, Opie learns about the value of hard work. Opie meets some new kids at school who get a hefty allowance so in this scene Opie tries to convince Andy to give him a big allowance for the work he is currently doing for free. Andy sits down and explains to Opie the value and importance of working hard for a respectable pay and not just working to get rich.

The shows values are clear from this scene because it values working hard and teaching children about morals This ideology relates back to incorporating family with television. This is the type of show that would be considered appropriate in 1963 for the entire family to watch and enjoy. There is comedy involved with the adult characters on the show that parents can enjoy watching while there are subplots with Opie and other kids that would entertain children watching the show. Not only is it entertaining for the whole family to gather around and watch, but it also teaches children lessons about what is right and wrong.

Early television was meant to bring together the family and promote ideas that were appropriate and safe to air on tv. There was a lot of fear surrounding television that it was “brainwashing” children, making people lazy, and stupid. To reassure people, television shows such as this one were created to show how television was safe and nondamaging for your child to watch. Family is what the entire show circles around because the show is specifically meant for families to watch together. This scene highlights this fact and provides insight to televisions humble and innocent beginnings. Oh how far we’ve strayed from this…

-Sophia Pellar

Breaking Bad Breaking Televisual Boundaries

Breaking Bad is a drama/thriller series that began in 2008. From then there has been a total of five seasons, with a total of 62 episodes. The premise of the show is the main character, Walter White, is diagnosed with lung cancer and in order to pay for his cancer treatment and save money for his family, he began to run a meth lab.

This particular scene is from season three, episode 10, titled “Fly.” The scene takes place in the meth lab and begins with Walter White trying to figure something out. Then the viewer is first introduced to a fly by hearing a somewhat unsettling buzz amongst the silence. Then the camera angle is positioned to put the viewer in the same perspective as Walter. This technique makes the audience feel as if they are right there with Walter, and experiencing his frustration.

The entire scene takes place in one room, however, the audience does not get bored of the visual aspect of the scene because we get many different camera angles and movements. In classic television shows, such as sitcoms, the audience generally sees only a few different angles and little to know camera movement. Breaking Bad takes advantage of the different possibilities of shooting a scene such as the slightly shaking camera during Walter’s attempts at killing the fly, moving the camera to follow his path through the lab, a point of view shot from Walter’s perspective, and from the fly’s perspective on the ceiling. These different uses of filming results in a much more visually appealing style that will keep the viewer wanting to watch more.

What is most interesting about this scene is the lack of dialogue. In classic sitcoms a program’s only method of keeping an audience intrigued is through the script. However, this scene shows that with no dialogue (besides the accounts of Walter mumbling phrases to himself), visuals play a very important role in telling a story and reflecting the tone of the narrative. The viewer understands a sense of complexity of the situation as the camera follows Walter as he wanders through the lab. The viewer also feels a sense of frustration from the closer shots of Walter’s face as well as the emphasized sudden movements and sounds in an otherwise still and silent lab. This scene shows how the televisuality and styles that has emerged and evolved since television was first introduced have a large influence in the quality of television and keeping an audience intrigued.


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