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Television Programmes - Essay Example

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Two popular television programmes, The Simpsons and South Park, have both been heated topics of debate and continuous sources of controversy.While outwardly seeming to be simple satires on the American family and community, both sitcoms have been groundbreaking and innovative as they deal with modern social issues.But while both appear to be working towards the same end, each has its own agenda.The Simpsons, while satirising common stereotypes, brings a level of humanism to its characters and invokes sympathy from its audience.South Park, however, tends to do the exact opposite by initially presenting its characters as intelligent and reasonable and then ultimately revealing them to be biased…
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Television Programmes
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Television Programmes

Download file to see previous pages... , selfish, and ignorant.Thus, while The Simpsons approaches common human foibles with a sense of personalisation and idealisation, South Park approaches them more objectively and realistically.
Homer's constant and unabashed attempts to strangle his son, and Marge's emotional passive-aggressiveness are the antithesis of modern politically correct parenting, and yet the family's dysfunctions are couched within good intentions and genuine love for one another.In season five's episode, "Lisa on Ice" (Scully, M. Anderson, B. 1994) Lisa and Bart are pitted against one another in a hockey match.This opposition is exacerbated by the natural role-reversal inherent in Lisa's new involvement in sports.Prior to this, Bart had been the "sports hero."The episode opens with Bart's hockey team's victory over a rival team and Homer's praising him for it.Thus, the roles are clear: Lisa is the smart one, but Bart is the athletic one.Lisa's usurpation of Bart's role causes friction between the two, culminating in a competition in which brother is pitted against sister.But the two soon realise that their familial love for one another outshines their competitiveness and they skate away, arm-in-arm.So the message is that despite their struggles, the family bond will always overcome adversity, and this theme is present in many other episodes, such as "Life on the Fast Lane" (Swartzwelder, J. Silverman, D. 1990) in which Marge is presented with the opportunity to cheat on her husband, and "The Last Temptation of Homer" (Mula, F. Baeza, C. 1993) in which Homer is given the opportunity to cheat.
Alternatively, South Park takes a less loving approach to family trials, such as season two's episode "Clubhouses" (Parker, T. 1998) in which Stan's parents, Randy and Sharon, decide to seek a divorce.Sharon immediately starts dating another man, and Randy goes out and buys a new car and pierces his ear.Sharon makes no attempt to be sensitive to her children's emotions, and Randy does not even seem to miss them, as he later demonstrates when he takes Stan home after their weekend visitation and says, "I really enjoyed our time together and I'm really sorry to see it end- go on, get out."The family's emotional upheaval is insensitive and displays a sense of annoyance rather than any feeling of loss or regret, and eventually, it is Randy and Sharon's physical attraction to one another that draws them back together and makes them opt to work out their difficulties.This is brutally realistic approach to family life- completely devoid of sentimentality or compassion.South Park depicts family life as a state of doing rather than being, and that when one or more parties start to expect familial bliss, they over-complicate matters that they should be working to harmonize.So ultimately, while The Simpsons suggests that family bonds will always protect the integrity of the family, South Park seems to suggest that familial and marital success are contingent on personal responsibility.
The differences in the way each family interacts is also in line with each program's agenda.In The Simpsons, Bart and Lisa are competitive and fight constantly.Bart, being older and physically stronger, antagonizes Lisa, prompting her to react, and when the two fight, they seem to do so on equal footing.This seems to imply a sense of equality between the two children as they combat ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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