Comedy TV shows dominated the 90s with the likes of Friends and Seinfeld. Comedy was king and gave the viewing public much wanted relief from the stress of a multi-tasking existence. What was funny was how much we could relate to the characters and their relationships as they were portrayed on the screen in exaggerated and farcical fashion. At the center of each character or relationship, though, was something real and universal that allowed us to connect and care about the people on screen. Something in them spoke to something in us and drew us into their world. For a disconnected and lonely populous, these characters may have played a role in too many lives that bordered on unhealthy.
But somewhere along the way, comedy TV shows gave way to something darker within our culture. The characters were not enough to sustain the relationship forever. With the lack of anything substantive following behind, the vacuum was filled with the seedy nastiness of low brow reality TV. We were no longer delighted by characters we could relate to, but became obsessed with real people we were repulsed by. Reality TV is no more real than wrestling of the 70s. it is just as scripted and the characters are no more real than the Undertaker or Cain. The irony of reality TV characters is that if these people were real in our lives we wouldnt have anything to do with them.
Comedy TV shows gave us characters we would like to hang out with: Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, Monica, Joey, Chandler, Fraser, Jerry, Elaine, Kramer, Hawkeye, and many others. The characters on TV now make you want to lock your doors and hide your children. The sad thing is that these characters live on past their reality show and become celebrities being booked as guest judges, writing books, given interviews and guest appearances on legitimate shows and gain legitimacy vicariously through them.