Monday, March 25, 2013

Jillian Sandell
I'll Be There For You: Friends and the Fantasy of Alternative Families

"The promise of the show is that in the face of heterosexual failure and familial dysfucntion, all you need are good friends."  (p.142)


I.  Must See TV
  • Actors endorse consumer products and a way of life
  • Depicts "alternative families"
  • Excludes racial/ethnic 'others'



II.  Primetime Families

    • Ella Taylor (1989)
      • TV reflects the social shifts in society and speaks to our collective worries and yearning to improve
      • Transitions
        • 1950s - TV focused on family OR work
        • 1970s - TV focused on family AND work ("work families")
        • 1990s - the "Alternative Family"
          • focuses on a synthetic family comprised of mostly non-familial persons, relationships with friends, neighbors












III.  The Personal is Ironic
    • Jane Feuer (1992)
      • Sitcom: develops by reacting to and against previous sitcoms (p.146)
        • Identities tied to locations (couch, apartment)
      • Trauma is funny
        • Dealing with negative life events is a shared (funny) experience
        • Dealing with "                              " is more fun with friends
      • Alternative families can substitute for support where 'real' families or 'work' families have failed
IV.  Families We Choose
  • Kate Weston (1991)
    • Families "of choice" remain the focus of affective life
      • Families of choice: groups of people with common social and economic needs and resources, and with a personal past and a shared sense of future (p.147)
      • Creates a family environment, emotionally and materially supportive, with people of a close, special relationship
  • Stephanie Coontz (1992)
    • Myth of the white, middle-class family
    • Access to create "alternative families"
V.  The Fantasy of Incest
  • Failures of the members within the "alternative family" to hold relationships
    • Group does not approve
    • Lifestyle of "alternative family" does not support
      • Lack of support or disapproval of interpersonal relationships within and outside of the group
        • Both disrupt the balance and dynamic of the alternative family
http://youtu.be/0MbDiSgPCpQ?t=14s
http://youtu.be/-uqyIwq6jjI

VI.  The Whiteness of the Hail
  • Presented as white, consumed by white viewers
  • Difference/diversity represented by "sexual minorities"
    • Carol
    • Joey and Chandler
    • Rachel and Tad
  • White friends,... white lovers?
    • Julie vs Emily
Conclusion:  Sandell seems to be supportive of the premise of the show in regards to alternative families, but less supportive in the content of the Friends family, and how their existence is established by the absence or presentations of 'others'.







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