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tv   History of the Sitcom  CNN  July 18, 2021 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT

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jerusalem remains in a state of chaos for centuries. that all changed when a source entered the one clear goal, to conquer the entire world. sexuality has come a long way in sitcom history. >> can you donate a penis to a person who's transitioning? >> daddy -- >> sitcoms talking about sex. >> my underwear. >> and bad relationships. >> i am breaking up with him tonight. >> these shows change the way we think about sexuality.
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>> you are talking about gay rights. you are talking about women's rights. >> gender diversity. >> this man is telling -- >> sexually evolution. >> i have to get married or move. >> but, if you can make them laugh then oh maybe we'll watch it again. ♪ anything and everything. let's get our sex talk on. >> oh, mom cofvered it all prety good. maybe about the birds or the bees, i am your daddy and i am here to keep it 100. despite the fact that your mom thinks i am uptight, cray-cray,
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right? >> i want to go home and sleep in my own bed, i don't want another beer. >> do you want another beer? >> it is always been like a straight white man's point of view. >> i remember early sitcoms, i saw a mother and a wife in a cocktail dress all day long and we sit there going who the hell are these people? it was a denial of reality. >> ethal, we are going to have a baby. we got to see a pregnant woman on television wearing a dress that started from the neck that looked like a tent. >> as if we didn't all come from a pregnant woman. >> in the '60s, sitcoms were stuck in the 1950s suburban housewife mentality. then this sfinteresting dynamic that you see tv trying to
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address the gender war that's coming. ♪ >> i definitely think that "i dream of a jeannie," she was as powerful one. she's magic. when you have magic you can do a lot of things. >> what are you reading jeanie? >> the emancipation of modern woman. >> what does it mean? >> jeannie, oh, you don't have to worry about things like that. >> you have this character who is the absolute epiphany of male fantasy. >> i want to understand your way
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of life so i can please you. >> you please me very much. as a matter of fact, you are perfect. >> there is an episode of "americanization of jeannie" where he she dips her toes intoe world of e manmancemancipation. >> i guess you are so caught up that you forgot to do house work. >> i did not forget, i decided to let you do it. >> tony did not find it attractive. he was turned off by it. >> your behavior this evening is disgraceful. >> let me tell you one more thing. >> sitcom television has changed with the times but it was a lot more comedy than just jeannie and her master. a lot going on.
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>> you have this interesting moment because in the real world, the women's liberation movement is pushing female equality further than it ever been. >> these magical powers that jeanie possessed are transformed to show like that girl that power is not magical. >> is there anything else i can do, miss? >> well, there are about 4,000 things to do around here, i can do it myself point. >> that's my girl. that girl. oh my god. with her little crunchy voice and cute face and her hair -- >> you had marlow thomas as really one of the first female independent self-employed career woman.
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>> are you a couple? >> no, i am a single. >> the premise of that girl was a young girl who wanted to be somebody. >> how would you like to be an actress? >> i am an actress. >> that was what made it so earth shattering at the times. we had not seen a girl with a dream. >> people actually recognized me in the subway coming home. >> girl television star. but, we were really -- we could not appear to be having sex. >> how can a plan have a trauma? it is as living thing. it is sensitive. >>. >> donald -- anything you have to say to me, you can say in front of my plant. >> it was always happening on the street but it was not happening on television, not at all. and standard of practice
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watching us like hawks. they were married and had to sleep in separate beds. donald always went home and yet it was the time of free love. it was a time of woodstock. it had nothing to do with where society was. >> oh, marlow thomas. oh my god. she punned the bar to mary tyler moore and she ran with it. >> i remember why i broke off with howard. >> mary tyler massive to me. >> i have been dating since i was 17 and i am 37. that was two decades of dating. >> mary richards was actually having sex. >> don't forget to take your pills. >> i won't. >> what you got in the '70s is women not embarrassed that they
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don't have a husband and they take care of them and they have to stay home. along comes -- >> feminine fulfillment telling you to be cute and pamper your husband and cater to his every win. >> great. >> don't you just call that by being married? >> we started filming "mud" in july of '72 and roe v. wade had passed. abortion was a big issue for me. >> the episode aired in november of 1992 as as two-parter, that was early to be talking about abortion on television. >> mother, i don't understand your hesitancy. when they made it a law you were for it. >> of course, i was not pregnant then. >> there were stations throughout the country did not air those episodes.
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>> we finally have the right to decide what we can do with our own bodies. >> would you please get yours into the kitchen? >> we had a platform but we were not shoving it down anybody's throat. we were making them laugh and hopefully making them think. dry eye symptoms driving you crazy? inflammation might be to blame. inflammation: time for ache and burn! over the counter eye drops typically work by lubricating your eyes and may provide temporary relief. inflammation: those'll probably pass by me! xiidra works differently, targeting inflammation that can cause dry eye disease. inflammation: xiidra? no! it can provide lasting relief. xiidra is the only fda-approved non-steroid treatment specifically for the signs and symptoms of dry eye disease. one drop in each eye, twice a day. don't use if you're allergic to xiidra. common side effects, include eye irritation, discomfort or blurred vision when applied to the eye,
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can you stop at the shop sometimes? >> okay. >> lbgtq representation in sitcoms are important because we are all in this together. >> they can't leave you out anymore. >> i would like to begin with a fact, a simple, yet shocking fact. homosexuals and lesbians are threaten our entire generation of our history. >> the characters of sitcom are similar to the history of lbgtq people of america. they were always there. they had to be hidden. >> there is the under statement of the history. >> don't you get it dumb-dumb?
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>> jay hathaway. >> this beautiful daughter of yours. >> you have people who were essentially seeing themselves depicted on the screen but not all the way. >> what are you doing in there? >> i have been praying. >> uncle arthur gives off an nerge. energy. oh, look at that odd cookie ball, i hope he has a wife that loves him very much. >> it was never acknowledged. so that's a step but it was not a step that later shows would take. >> the riot after a routine police raid on a gay bar. the wild insurrection would
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enter history. >> in the '60s and '70s. you see an explosion, to the credit of norman leerie and the many people who work with him, they put people with lbgtq community on television. >> we have not seen a gay character. why have we not seen it? >> they exist. >> get a load of this. my son-in-law is tinker-bell. >> they bring their own stories to families all the time. >> you are trying to tell me that steve is -- >> i would not want my place to become known as a hang out. >> there were materials there. >> he thinks you are just -- i
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can't even say it. >> he's right. >> these shows changed the way we think about utterness. >> excuse me -- >> same old, eddie. >> he's here in there. >> in 1977, we got a ground breaking episode of "the jeffersons," titled "once a friend ". >> eddie, only i am eating now. >> george can't wait for eddie to come to town. when eddie comes to town, eddie is now edy and he's a trans woman.
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>> it is something that exists in the timeline of lbgtq representation and black representation. >> if you know and like this person, that's fictional, how can you not know and like this person in your real life. >> when we were younger, i used to hate you and you used to steal my clothes. >> such nice things. >> if you think is so raw, why do people drinks? >> you mean new yorkers? >> no, homos. >> there was something about delicious about the gayness of billy crystal krcharacter. >> it was mainstream television. wow, this is happening and real. >> if you look back at it now, there were moment that is very incredibly sensitive and it was an important kyle character.
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>> you hate me because i am gay, right? >> i guess if you need a reason, that's a good one. >> it is a terrible reason. look at me. i am a person. >> i think people watching that character thought for the first time of the possibility of gay men being real people. >> you don't look gay. >> i am still me. >> that show kind of didn't know what it was doing. >> when i am finally used to you being homosexual. >> you are going to get a sex change? >> the use of stereotype, it creates what's funny about me is that i am di lewded that i should glom back onto society that's changing. and now people are more open to trans identities.
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>> dad? hi girls. >> okay, there are trans women and lesbians here. >> dad, what are you wearing? >> i was confused of what america could handle.
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are you okay with me? >> no, i am happy. >> jthey were telling a story o their own parents who had come out as trans to them. >> i had major misunderstanding of transness. the learning curve i had no go onto understand these are cross dressers and they are not the same as drag queens and trans women. >> the family was trying to understand moira and i was trying to understand my parents. >> people can get better and people come together and build a better world together. i appreciate it on that level. it normalizes a lot of these
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concepts. >> my whole life i had been dressing up like a man. >> jesse dressing up as a trans woman, it is kind of dangerous. if they want to use the women's restroom, somebody thinks they are quote on quote "faking it." >> yeah, we are aware of what it is >> i do think it made transness one of the things that somebody in the family could be and life goes on. >> for a long time this sitcom was primarily driven by what makes us different and what makes us funny especially those '70s and '80s shows, it creates a sense of abnormality. >> hello girls. come on in, girls. >> it is nice to see you, girls.
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>> a man dress degree as a woman in 1992 is not at all as today's culture. >> they got into drag in order to pass themselves as female musicians. we can point to the use of drag as a comedic device. >> are you two -- >> i mean you are big. >> really big. >> throughout the years, a lot of gay characters and queer characters were people created by heterosexual people to be a lif lifeline.
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>> what are you doing? >> loosening up my wrist. >> i didn't know you had practice. >> that's how you say gay in "th "three's company." >> boy, you want to be around them. it is a little light, right? we find out that we can care about these people. >> nobody was trying to hurt anybody. we are just trying to make you laugh and feel good. >> as a gay man, i look at a character like jack and part of me says you are allowing this straight man to say he's one thing and he's not. hearing those words on television is important, he's willing to become apart of a community that's an other. ♪
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>> three's company emerged at a period in time that america's saying i don't want sex to be a taboo subject anymore. >> that's a lovely mole you got on your thigh. >> two girls and a guy living together and the landlord is okay with it because he thinks john ritter's character is gay. >> "three's company" is a perfect '70s in to the '80s show. >> i have been walking behind you since you got off the boss. >> why didn't you say something? >> i was enjoying the view from the rear. >> men were running on the show. >> you can do it. >> you can, you can. >> the way christie snow became queen of the jiggle was the first year.
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she got very excited and jumps back and forth and that's when boobs are real. >> i know the writers would add the line and chrissy jumps for joy. >> it was a sign that america may have been burnt out on the se social issues. we had been through the vietnam war, it may have ended. >> i era was the era of losing friend and going to funerals. maybe this was the comic relief that we leaded. >> "three's company" was a massive hit out of the box. it was empty calorie but it was still delicious. >> i was scared as who i was. certainly now i can look back at them and having a certain fondness for them. even though they are coated and over the top, it was something that i thought was really
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important. >> i think monroe sort of fell into that asexual thing where i was not supposed to be gay. you have to be brain dead not to. i was in the closet and i was terrified that you know it would ruin my career or whatever, you know? and then the 1985, i discovered i was hiv positive. there was really not any treatment for it. i was terrified.
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i lived in paranoia in the '80s. absolute total paranoia. >> name that handicap. >> when the aids outbreak -- i was terrified of people finding
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out i am gay. there is no way i can be openly gay at that time. >> it would have been career suicide. >> i think being gay was admitting to someone that you could have aids. >> ultimately we didn't see very many lgbtq characters in sitcoms and in the '80s for most lbgtq community. it was a very dark time. >> seems like you had a transfusion while you were there. the hospital thinks that the blood could have contained hiv antibodies. >> wait a minute, you are talking about aids. >> "the golden girls" gave the show license and really show how the women reacted to important issues. >> damn it, why is this happening to me? >> this is not supposed to happen to people like me. you must have gone to bed with
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hundreds of men. >> blanch says a line that america needed to hear. >> aids is not a bad person's disease, rose. it is not god punishing the people for their sins. >> you are right, blanch, you are damn straight i am right. it was something in the 1990s that so many people needed to hear and "the golden girls" were able to deliver that message. >> when we see these moments in sitcoms is because there had been activists trying to normalized and humanize folks that's not humanized for so far. >> it is fine who you are. >> i got many gay friends. >> my father is gay. >> just because you two are homosexuals, so what? >> it got into her head that
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jerry and george are gay lovers. >> what did you think of this shirt? >> jerry said he didn't like it. > the minute we understood that was the impression we got, we tried to prove to her -- >> look, you want to have sex right now? >> they narrowed the gay panic. >> it is not true. >> not like there is anything wrong with that. >> the more we see things, the more normalized those things become. >> hello. whether it is sexuality or gender diversity. we got to put it out there because we just seen one kind of thing for so long. >> how about your boyfriend, mr. feel this? >> feel this.
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>> when ellen came on the air, there was no lbgtq representation at all. >> not a big deal. >> ellen's show did not start a show of a gay woman. >> yeah, he's my cutest healthcare provider. >> it was about this goofy bookstore owner and her friends and it was becoming a hit for abc and ellen wanted to tell the truth and have the kylecharacte also do so. >> ellen, are you coming out or not? >> yeah, quit jerking us around and come out already. >> come on. what's the big deal? >> i got a whole hour. >> i don't think you canover state what was at stake for ellen degeneres in terms of coming out. she had a fantastic career as stand up. he was having film career at the time. this pressure cooker had been mounting and her show really was what blew the lid off of it.
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>> susan, i am gay. it was an incredible pivotal moment in television when ellen morgan, ellen degeneres' character came out. it coincide of her character coming out. >> it was not differicult, i wod have done it a long time ago, it became a national event. >> that felt so great. it felt so loud. >> i mean she was us. she was america but she just was gay. >> religious organizations objected to the idea that a gay person coming out on national television? >> hey, wild and fools.
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>> the abc's sitcom ellen cancelled. >> i believe because the show was so gay, yes. >> the fact that the show didn't continue must have been extremely traumatic and hard on her. helen was driven out of the industry for a while. there was a backlash. i think that threaten to put a chill on development of any more shows. you could find an executive that says look at what happened with ellen. your skin isn't just skin, it's a beautiful reflection of everything you've been through. that's why dove renews your skin's ceramides and strengthens it against dryness for softer, smoother skin you can lovingly embrace.
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ellen played such a formative role in shifting the conversation but there was still a landscape of fear. >> in the '90s there were gay men and women who wanted their stories told. >> we were afraid of alienating an audience but norman leary told us that not only it is a good thing to reflect the world you live in but it is wildly successful. i think what it said is don't be afraid. ♪ this is december of '97. >> i wanted to be anybody on
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"friends" or "seinfield." when that script arrived, oh, i hope the sub is for me. >> did you buy anything? >> yeah, i got a great camisole. >> sexting? >> yeah, i am going to sleep. >> ask me in the morning. >> was it danny? >> yeah. >> jealous? >> honey, i don't need your man. i got george clooney. >> the story was the relationship between a gay man and his female best friend. >> sorry babe, he does not bat for your team. >> well, he has not seen me pi pitched. >> i had played several gay characters in the theaters and on television. >> she says you and grace should get married. >> grace and me? >> what i saw on the page was charming leading man but u
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unapologetically -- >> honey, i am having an affair. >> i knew i can do it with dignity and empathy. >> when it started off, everyone was like how gay it would be? >> grace, did you know that i was gay? >> the answer is you could not go gay enough. >> there was two openly gay men were different. we were able to see oh being gay is not just one thing. >> i want to know how long i have to wait until i see two gay men kiss on network television. >> not as long as you think. >> it is a great way for anyone to connect. >> a lot of people was like it is a big fat thank you. >> the network found out yes, there is an audience for this.
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>> i think that really changed things for people because they fell in love with these characters and they realized what's the prejudice. >> i think will and grace did more to educate the public than anything anybody have done. >> they're getting married in four days. >> i love weddings. >> it is not strictly a wedding. >> where are they going on their honeymoon? >> it is hard to remember it now but during the obama administration, barack obama was opposed to gay marriage. "modern family" came at the right time. it came in right on the heels of "will and grace" and kept the engine rolling. >> you just made a little girl happy. >> yes, i can see that. >> i think a lot of people really love mitch and cam together. it was heartworarming to hear
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people from, my husband is just like mitch or my wife is just like cam. >> all they cared about was raising their daughter well. they love each other. they were sweet to each other. >> this amazing looking guy. i am not amazing. >> really? >> i would not change anything. >> you were like the trojan horse that came into the living room. >> the hearts accepted us. why would you not want them to be married? >> on the steps of supreme court, jubilation among similar same-sex marriage. the whole mitch/cam getting married was sparked by the decision. >> mitch was on the computer and watching and people were celebrating. can you believe this finally happened? >> "modern family" created this whole new modern comedy. >> i have out done myself,
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gloria. i booked my restaurant. >> oh my god. >> and then it of course ends with them on the side of the road trying to fix a flat tire. >> yes. >> yes. >> that's when i think it can do. it can open up people's minds and hearts. >> and i do think that "modern family" can take credit for making america comfortable with the idea of same-sex marriage. >> you may now kiss your husband. >> this morning the supreme court recognized that the constitution guarantees marriage equality. >> and then now with shows on some of the streamers, we are beginning to see stories like the thanksgiving episode from
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"master of none" that's only because these lbgtq community have been given the platform to talk about >> some black people think being gay is a choice. when they find out their kids is gay, they're trying to figure out what they did wrong. >> it takes someone for us to go to the door to have the representation. >> ma -- >> i am gay. >> you are what? >> lena's coming out story, that was revolution. >> you don't have to sacrifice anything to steal people's thought provoking and you know spark conversations. >> i am happy for you. e previoua hurry,
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hey, pops. how come you never gave me the talk? ? i most certainly did. what do you think that box of condoms i left in your bedroom was about? >> that was it? >> oh, you wanted a hug too? >> the american people are
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collectively a little bit conservative when it comes to issues of sex. >> don't get all caught up in this having open dialogue with your kids hoopla. it's not natural. show me one place in the bible where a kid talks. >> we wanted to be able to laugh about sex for the same reason we want to be able to laugh about anything that scares us or disturbs us. >> so i'm sure you've had sex with my mother. which is fine. >> oh, my god. >> but are you using protection? >> and it took a long time. but sitcoms really opened the door for us being able to tell stories about sex and laugh at them. without "three's company" you don't perhaps get "golden girls." and that leads to shows that are being super open about sex and sexuality. >> i think i know you from somewhere. >> it's very possible we -- >> no, i think i know you from college. >> then we probably -- in college. >> i thought it was time to lighten up about sex. >> what's the big mystery? it's my clitoris, not the
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sphynx. >> in the 1990s we hadn't seen shows that are frank about women's sex lives, about their romantic lives. the biggest change came with the explosion of cable. >> what i loved about hbo was their criteria was only quality, it wasn't network censorship or anything like that. >> tell me exactly how he worded it. >> i wanted to explore this world of sex and relationships from a female point of view and do something really, really frank. >> we've been seeing each other for a couple of weeks. i really like you. and tomorrow night after dinner i want us to have anal sex. >> it feels a little funny to call it a sitcom, and i think the reason for that is because it really pushed a lot of barriers around talking about sex and relationships in ways that sitcoms certainly didn't do. >> so? how big was it? >> fresh pepper? >> my guiltiest pleasure was "sex and the city." >> you men have no idea what we're dealing with down there.
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teeth placement and jaw strength and suction and gag reflex. honey, they don't call it a job for nothing. >> i felt a little naughty watching it. >> okay, ladies. take note. >> but at the time shows that often centered on black women are still pretty much a rarity. >> i haven't had sex in a year. >> ooh. damn, girl, you sure you still open for business? you know what happens when you don't wear earrings. >> at the time "sex and the city" was on, as much as i enjoyed it i didn't feel like black women were being invited to that party. they didn't include women that looked like me. so being raised not to complain but to see an opportunity, pitched "girlfriends." >> you know i'm about to make junior partner and i've got a great house and i just -- i don't have anyone to share it with. >> it was like a network version of "sex and the city" but with four black women in los angeles instead of new york. and you know, we see how their lives are different. >> i'll tell you what i'm going
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to do to you. big boy. >> oh, yeah. who's your daddy, bitch? >> what? >> "girlfriends" started to deal with subject matter that black women are really dealing with. from the light and fluffy stuff. >> my friends are perky tonight. >> to the tougher stuff. >> black women need to be supporting each other, not tearing each other down. >> we had bigger dreams than just finding the man. >> you are the bitch that i have always wanted to be. >> i think women in sitcom history have become much more vocal in advocating for themselves. and they have now progressed in their careers and made their own shows. >> who are the ladies? >> obvi we're the ladies. >> i'm not the ladies. >> yeah, you're the ladies. >> i am other not the ladies. >> "girls" comes along. "girls" resonates. you go, okay, they're not pretending to be anybody else.
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they're themselves. >> i don't want a picture of your dick because i live very near you. so if you wanted me to look at your dick i could just come over and look at your dick. >> it wasn't about the fabulousness. it was about them being kind of a mess and trying to find their way being a miss. >> nothing was off the table. >> you like that? >> people were shocked at what she was doing. >> i almost came. >> but it was still a very i think narrow vision of america and it wasn't the reality for most americans. >> i think your uspussy's broke. >> what? >> "insecure" centers in on the characters, the identity and the culture that shows like "sex and the city" and "girls" had nothing to do with. >> what that do? >> do or don't do? >> it do. it definitely do. >> for the first time maybe a lot of white people are learning that like there's a lot of different ways to be a black woman, there's a lot of different ways to be a millennial black woman. >> there are a lot of different ways to be.
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>> this is my favorite bit. >> playback was just a revelation. >> hi. >> hey. >> it felt dangerous. >> i'll be sure to treat you like a nasty little bitch. >> sitcoms don't usually feel dangerous. >> there's always a stage when someone's falling in love with you they lose their erection. >> "fleabag" is intensely personal and intimate and raunchy. >> honestly, he made me come nine times. >> honestly? >> she wanted you to experience the craziness of what she's involved in. she's looking at the camera. she's having sex with some guy she really doesn't care about. >> he's wasting me. >> "fleabag" was just saying and putting out there what we all were thinking. right? who didn't fantasize about obama? she was just being honest. >> we're going to have sex, aren't we? >> she slept with a priest. >> yeah. >> ooh. that's intimate. >> it's fascinating to track the evolution of female sexuality in the sitcom because you start off
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with beds that had to be separate. you couldn't say the word pregnant. >> i've had a lot of sex outside of marriage. >> fast forward to now when we celebrate it, love it and we'll give you an award for it. here we go. pivot! pivot! pivot! pivot! >> shut up! shut up! shut up! >> i feel like we get to know these sitcom characters. they're your friends. >> i don't think it's going to pivot anymore. >> you think? >> they were purely selfish and purely immature. >> are you still master of your domain? >> i'm queen of the castle. >> you hope that you'll have those kinds of relationships in your life. >> tonight

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