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tv   History of the Sitcom  CNN  July 31, 2021 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT

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i'm obsessed with sex. >> sexuality has come a long way in sitcom history. >> can you donate a penis to a person who is transitioning? >> laughter is a great way to deal with a very tricky world. >> sitcoms talk about sex. >> my underwear. >> my god. >> and about relationships. >> i'm breaking up with him tonight. >> these shows changed the way that we think about sexuality. you're talking about gay rights. you're talking about women's rights. >> gender diversity. >> dismantling the patriarchy. >> you know, sexual revolution. >> so i'm officially out of men to [ bleep ]. i have to get married or move. >> but if you can make them laugh, then, uh, maybe, we'll
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watch it again. ♪ anything and everything. let's get our sex talk on. >> oh. mom covered it all pretty good. >> yeah. maybe about the birds and the bees but i'm your daddy, son. i'm here to keep it 100. despite the fact that your mother thinks i'm uptight. cray-cray, right? >> because it's disarming and people just want to laugh. >> i want to go home to my own room to sleep in my own bed. i don't want another beer. >> would you like another beer? >> oh, yeah. >> but it's always been from, like, the straight-white man's point of view. >> i remember, early sitcoms, i saw a mother, a wife, in a cocktail dress all day long.
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and we'd sit there going, who the hell are these people? it was a denial of reality. >> ethyl, we're going to have a baby. >> and we got to see a pregnant woman on television wearing a dress that started from the neck, and was like a tent. >> are we afraid of seeing pregnant women in the 1950s because it means that she has had sex? as if we didn't, all, come from a pregnant woman. >> and in the '60s, sitcoms were still stuck in perpetuating this 1950s suburban-housewife mentality. but then, it's this really interesting dynamic, where you see tv trying to address the gender war that was coming. >> i, definitely, think i dream of genie is an escape for many people. >> i could eat a horse.
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>> you know, she is this entity who is trying to do the best she can in the world that she's come into. >> ask anything of thy slave, master. >> yes, she said master. but, of course, she was the powerful one. she's magic. i mean, when you have magic, you can do a lot of things. >> what are you reading, jeannie? >> i'm reading a scroll. the emancipation of modern woman. what does it mean? >> jeannie, oh, you don't have to worry about things like that. >> but you have this character, who is the absolute epitome of male fantasy. >> i want to understand your way of life so that i can please you. >> well, you please me very much. matter of fact, you're -- you're perfect. >> there is an episode called "the americanization of jeannie," where she dips a toe into the waters of female liberation. >> i have been studying the emancipation of modern woman. >> oh. oh, that. i guess, you got to caught up in
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it, you forgot to do the housework, huh? >> oh, i did not forget. i decided to let you do it. >> me? >> i think there are female viewers and young girls who were watching, at the time, who were empowered by seeing jeannie. >> but tony doesn't find it att attractive. he is turned off by it. >> a woman doesn't about the way you did tonight. but your behavior this evening was absolutely disgraceful. let me tell you one more thing. >> sitcom television has changed, with the times. but there was a lot more comedy than just jeannie and her master. a lot more going on. >> we demand freely-available childcare facilities that will give all women an alternative to confinement in the home. >> you have this interesting moment because, in the real world, the women's liberation movement is pushing female
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equality further than it had ever been. >> and then, these magical powers that jeannie possessed. >> that is the real you. >> are kind of transformed to shows like "that girl." where power doesn't have to be magical. >> anything else i can do, miss? >> well, there are about 4,000 things to do around here. i could do 'em all myself. >> come on, that's my girl. that girl. oh, my god. with her little crunchy voice. and her cute face. and her hair. >> you had marlow thomas as, really, one of the first female-independent self-employed career women. >> are you a couple? >> no, i'm a single. >> the premise of "that girl," was a young girl who wanted to be somebody. >> why would you like to be an actress? >> an actress? i am an actress. >> and that's what made it, you know, so earth shattering, at the time. because we hadn't really seen
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a -- a girl with a dream. >> people actually seem to recognize me in the subway coming home. >> anne marie. girl-television star. >> but we were really puritanical on television. we could not even appear to be having sex. >> how can a plant have a trauma? >> it's a living thing. it's probably very sensitive. >> then, we better go in the next room and talk so it won't hear us. >> donald, anything you have to say to me, you can say in front of my plant. >> it was all happening on the street. but it wasn't happening on television. not at all. i mean, in the standards and practices watched us like hawks. this went back to lucy and desi. they were married and they had to sleep in separate beds. donald always went home, yet it was the time of free love. it was the time of woodstock. it had nothing to do with where society was.
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>> marlow thomas. oh, my god. she punted the ball to mary tyler moore. and mary tyler moore ran with it. >> i remember why i broke up with howard. >> mary tyler moore was just so massive to me. having her job, and dealing with, like, all of these men. >> i have been dating since i was 17. i'm 37. that's two decades of dating. >> mary richards was actively having sex. >> don't forget to take your pill. >> i won't. >> what you've got, in the '70s, is women not embarrassed that they don't have a husband who takes care of them. and they have -- have to stay home. and that really made a statement. >> and along comes b arthur playing mod. that couldn't have been done in the '50s and '60s. >> to just cater to his every
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whim. >> call that being married? >> we started filming mod in july of '72. and roe v. wade had passed. and so, abortion was a big issue, for me. >> the episode mod's abortion aired in november of 1972 as a two-parter. and that was very 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 wasn't pregnant, then. >> there were stations, all throughout the country, that did not air those episodes. >> we, finally, have the right to decide what we can do with our own body. >> all right. then, will you, please, get yours into the kitchen? >> we had a platform. but we weren't shoving it down anybody's throat. we were making them laugh, and,
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millions of vulnerable americans struggle to get reliable transportation to their medical appointments. that's why i started medhaul. citi launched the impact fund to invest in both women and entrepreneurs of color like me, so i can realize my vision and give everything i've got to my company, and my community. i got you. for the love of people. for the love of community. for the love of progress. citi. i'm a pretty open-minded guy. so, why don't you stop by the shop sometime? >> lgbtq representation in sitcoms is important because we're, all, in this together. you can't leave that out. anymore.
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>> i'd like to begin with a fact. a simple, yet shocking, fact. it is this. homosexuals, lesbians, are threatening to pervert an entire generation of our american children. >> the history of lgbtq characters in sitcoms is, actually, very similar to the history of lgbtq people in america. they were always there. they just had to be hidden. >> there's the understatement of the century. >> with paul lind on bewitched, we had that cliche. >> don't you get it, dumb dumb? >> and on beverly hillbillies was gay. >> this beautiful daughter of yours can win the palm springs beauty contest without even trying. >> you had people who were essentially seeing themselves depicted on screen, but not all the way. >> what are you doing in there? >> i've been framed. >> uncle arthur gives off a tremendous gay-man energy that,
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if you are in the know, is unmistakable. but if you are not, you're just like, oh, look at that kooky oddball. i hope that he has a wife who loves him very much. >> it was like so many things in gay life. you had to read between the lines, and give that little wink. but it was never acknowledged. and so, that's a step but it wasn't the step that later shows would take. >> after a routine-police raid on a gay bar, the stonewall inn, in june of 1969, could not have known that their wild insurrection would enter history as the birthday of the gay liberation movement. >> in the '60s and '70s, you see an explosive in fighting for rights. queer liberation. >> to the credit of someone, like norman lear and the many people who worked with him, they put people with lgbtq identities on television. and to treat them as characters,
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not punch lines. >> we haven't seen a gay character. why haven't we seen a gay character? i mean, they exist. >> get a load of this. my son-in-law and his pal, tinker bell. >> excuse me, you mind? >> hey, steve. >> hi, mr. bunker. >> they bring their own stories to families, all the time. >> kelsey, he is trying to tell me that steve is -- >> i just wouldn't want my place to become no hangout. >> i mean, there was -- there was story material there. >> steve, you're going to want to bust him wide open when i tell you this. i don't know where he gets these brainstorms but he thinks that you're -- i can't even say it, steve. >> he's right, art. >> huh? >> these shows were changing the way that we think about queerness and otherness. >> excuse me, i thought it was eddie stokes's room. >> it is.
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>> it is? oh, you his wife? >> no. >> same, old lady, huh? oh, i got it he didn't want me to know he's here but he is here. in there. >> in 1977, we got a very groundbreaking episode of the jeffersons titled "once a friend." >> it's me, eddie. only, i'm edi now. >> george can't wait for eddie to come to town. his best friend. and when eddie comes to town, eddie is now edi and is a trans woman. >> take a good look. >> but the advancement of black-queer stories is something that exists, on a separate timeline from both lgbtq representation and black representation. >> representation matters because, if you know and like this person that's fictional, how can you not know and like this person in your real life? >> when you were younger, i used to hate you. you used to steal my clothes.
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>> you had such nice things. >> "soap," i think was so raw. >> what do you people drink? >> you mean new yorkers? we -- >> no, homos. >> we drink your basic-heterosexual drinks. >> there was something very delicious about the gayness of billy crystal's character. it was like mainstream television. wow. this is actually happening. this is actually real. >> if you look back at it, now, there were moments that were incredibly sensitive. and it was an important character. >> i mean, you hate me because i'm gay, right? >> well -- >> i guess, if you need a reason, that's a good one. >> better it's a terrible reason, look at me. i'm a person. >> i do people watching that character thought, for the first time, about the possibility of gay men being real people. >> you don't look gay. >> i'm still me. >> that said, that show kind of
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didn't know what it was doing. >> now, when i'm, finally, used to you being a -- >> homosexual. >> -- you're going to get a sex change operation and be a girl? >> i think that the use of stereotypical characters, like jody in "soap" is a double-edged sword. it creates a sense of what is funny about me is that i am diluted. and that i should, you know, sort of glom back onto society. it's changing. and now, people are more open to trans identities. >> dad? >> hi, girls. >> but even when i start making transparent and like going, okay, there's trans women and lesbians here. this is never going to fly. >> dad, what are you wearing? >> i was confused. i was confused about what america could handle. >> so, i have something to tell you. ,
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are you okay with me? >> oh, god, yes. i'm happy. >> transparent is an interesting case because joey is nonbinary. they fall under the trans umbrella and they were telling a story about their own parent, who had come out as trans, to
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them. >> i had major misunderstandings about transness. and that's -- the learning curve i had to go on, to really understand, oh, this -- these are who cross dressers are and they're not the same as drag queens and they're not the same as trans women. >> of all my kids, you're the one. you can see me most clearly. >> the family was trying to understand more and i was trying to understand my parent. it felt very much like kind of real-time therapy. >> "transparent" is about how people can change. people can get better. people can come together. people can build a better world, together. and i appreciate it on that level. it normalized a lot of these concepts. >> my whole life, i've been dressing up like a man. >> but jeffrey was a cis man who was dressing up as a trans woman. kind of dangerous, actually, because there's danger out in the world for trans women. where, if they want to use the
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women restroom, somebody thinks they are quote/unquote faking it. >> excuse me. are you a man? this is the ladies' restroom. >> we're aware what it is. we're good. >> but ultimately, i do think it made transness one of the things that somebody in the family could be and life goes on. >> but for a long time, the sitcom was, primarily, driven by what makes us different is what makes us funny. especially, in those '70s and '80s shows. it creates a sense of abnormality. >> oh, hello, girls. come on in, girls. it's nice to see you, girls. >> hi, guys. >> a man dressing as a woman in 1982 is -- is not at all a man dressing as a woman in our culture, today. >> i feel like a completely different kind of man. >> boys and buddies was some like it hot which was the jack lemon/tony curtis movie where
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they got into drag in order to pass themselves as female musicians. now, we can point out the use of drag as a comedic device. that's not quite lgbtq representation. it's just kind of in this weird space of things that might be queer. >> are you two farm girls? i mean, you are big. really big. >> throughout the years, a lot of gay characters, queer characters, were people that were created by, primarily, heterosexual people to be a laugh line. >> what are you doing? >> i'm loosening up my wrist. >> i didn't know you guys had to practice. >> i mean, that's how you said gay in three's company. hello, jack. >> in some ways, i mean, three's company was kind of a terrible show. and boy, did you want to be around them. it's a little light, right?
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but we find out that we can care about these people. >> nobody was trying to hurt anybody. we were just trying to make you laugh, and feel good. >> as a gay man, i look at character like jack on three is company and part of me says, you know, you are allowing this straight man to say he's one thing. and he's not. but at the same time, hearing those words on television was important, at the time, to say he's willing to become a part of a community that is an other. ♪ come and knock on our door ♪ ♪ we have been waiting for you ♪ ♪ where the kisses are hers and hers and his three is company too ♪ >> three's company emerged at a period in time, that america was saying i don't want sex to be a taboo subject, anymore. >> that's a lovely mole you have got on your thigh. >> three's company is -- in a lot of ways. two girls and a guy living in an
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apartment and the landlord is okay with it because he thinks john ritter's character is gay. >> how long do i have to go on letting him think i'm gay? >> as long as you live here. that is the only way he'll allow it. >> three's company is such a perfect '70s into the '80s show just in terms of the total sexism. >> i have been walking behind you since you got off the bus. >> why didn't you say something? >> i was enjoying the view from the rear. >> men were running the show. many of those men were putting women in the roles they wanted to see them in. >> you can do it! you can do it! you can, you can. >> the way chrissy became queen of the jiggle was, in that first year, chrissy got very excited and jumped up and down and bounced back and forth. that's when boobs were real. and i noticed, in the scripts, from there on in, that the writers would add the line, and chrissy jumps for joy. >> it was just a sign that america might have been burnt out on the social issues.
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we had been through the vietnam war. it had only, recently, ended. >> my era was the era of losing friends in that war. going to funerals. and so, maybe, this was the comic relief we needed. >> three's company was a massive hit, out of the box. it was empty calories but it was, still, delicious. i was watching these characters a point in my life where i was also scared of who i was. certainly, now, as an adult, i can look back at them and have certain fondness for them because even though they were a little over the top, it was something that subliminally, i think was really important. >> good night. >> the closet. >> i look at the time when i was on too close for comfort. i think monroe sort of fell into that asexual thing. where i never was supposed to be
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gay. but come on, you know, you'd have to be brain dead not to know that monroe was gay. but i was in the closet. i -- i was terrified that, you know, um, it would ruin my career or whatever. you know? and then, in 1985, i discovered that i was hiv positive. there was really not any treatment for it. i was terrified. the lasting cologne scent of old spice dynasty helps get you off your couch. and into the driver's seat. (realtor) the previous owners left in a hurry, so the house comes with everything you see. follow me. ♪
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congress opened hearings today on aids. the acquired immune deficiency syndrome and what the government is doing to fight it. >> i lived in paranoia, in the '80s. absolute, total paranoia. >> name that handicap. >> when the aids outbreak started, i was terrified of people finding out that i'm gay. there was no way i could 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
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sitcoms in the '80s for most lgbtq communities, it was a very dark time. >> seems, you had a transfusion while you were there. the hospital thinks the blood may have contained hiv antibodies. >> hiv? wait a minute. you're talking about aids. >> "the golden girls" being about older characters gave the show license to go further. and really, show how the women reacted to important issues. dammit, why is this happening to me? >> i mean, this isn't supposed to happen to people, like me. >> you must've gone to bed with hundreds of men. >> blanch says a line that i think america needed to hear which is -- >> aids is not a bad persons' disease, rose. it is not god punishing people for their sins. >> you're right, blanch. >> well, you're damn straight i'm right. >> it was something that, in 1990, so many people needed to hear and the golden girls were
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able to deliver that message, because of who they were. >> our media doesn't exist in a vacuum. so, when we do see these moments in sitcoms, it's because there have been activists trying to normalize and humanize folks who have been not humanized, for so long. >> i mean, it's fine if that's who you are. >> absolutely. >> i mean, i have many gay friends. >> my father's gay. >> and then, you have got the outing. >> you know, just because you two are homosexual, so what? >> the premise of that episode was a journalist was following jerry to do some sort of piece on him. and got it into her head that jerry and george were gay lovers. >> what do you think of this shirt? >> it's nice. >> jerry said he didn't like it. >> and the minute that we understood that that was the impression we were giving, we went into overdrive to try and prove to her that that was the farthest thing from true. >> it was a joke. >> look, you want to have sex right now? do you want to have sex?
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let's go. >> they really nailed the satire of the so-called gay panic. >> it's not true! it's not true! not that there's anything wrong with that. >> the more we see things, the more normalized those things become. >> hello. >> whether it's sexuality. whether it's gender diversity. you know, we got to just put it all out there because we've just seen one kind of thing, for so long. >> how about your boyfriend? mr. feel this. feel this. >> throughout the '90s, the gay community started making at least baby steps. >> but when ellen came on the air, there was no lgbtq representation, at all. >> not a big deal. >> of course, it's a big deal. it's a very big deal. >> but ellen's show didn't start as a show about a gay woman. >> was that a cute dentist? or was that a cute dentist?
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>> it was about this goofy, amiable bookstore owner and her friends and it was becoming a hit for abc. but ellen wanted to tell her truth, and have the character, also, do so. >> ellen, are you coming out or not? >> yeah, quit jerking us around. and come out, already! >> what is the big deal? i have got a whole hour. >> i don't think you can overstate what was at stake for ellen degeneres in terms of coming out. she had a fantastic career as a standup. she was having not just a tv but film career, at the time. >> this pressure cooker had been just mounting. and her show really was what blew the lid off of it. >> susan, i'm gay. >> it was an incredibly pivotal moment in television when ellen morgan, ellen degeneres's character, came out. and it coincided with ellen degeneres's own coming out, which was a brave thing to do when you're the rlead of a
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sitcom. >> it apprf it wasn't difficult would have done it a long time ago. >> it really became a national event. >> that felt so great. and it felt so loud. >> she must have felt just huge relief. >> i mean, she was us. she was america but she just was gay. >> but conservative and religious organizations objected to the idea of a gay person coming out on national television. >> oh, paige, you wild and petuous fool. >> cancelled just one year after the main character came out as a lesbian. >> in entertainment weekly, you said you were dropped or fired, basically, because i'm gay. correct quote? >> i believe that because the show was so gay, yes. >> the fact that the show didn't continue must've been extremely traumatic and hard on her. >> ellen was driven out of the
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industry, for a while, after that episode. so, there was a backlash, i think, that threatened to put a chill on development of any more shows with gay characters. because you could always find an executive who'd say, look what happened with ellen.
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that felt so great. and it felt so loud. >> 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 to have their stories told. >> we were afraid of alienating an audience. but norman lear told us that not only is it a good thing to reflect the world you live in. but it's wildly successful. and so, i think, what it said is don't be afraid. >> this is december of '97. i wanted to be anybody on "friends." i wanted to be anybody on
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"seinfeld." i want to be must-see tv so when that script arrived, oh, boy, i hope there's something in it for me. >> you buy anything? >> yeah, i got a great camisole. >> sexy? >> in the morning. >> was that 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 doesn't bat for your team. >> well, he hasn't seen me pitch. >> did i have nerves about it in 1998? yes. but i had played several gay characters, in the theater and on television. >> now, she said that you and grace should get married. >> grace and me? >> and what i saw on the page was charming-leading man. but unapologetically an out-gay man. >> yeah, this would be us three weeks in. honey, i'm having an affair. >> me, too. >> his name is donald. >> me too! >> i didn't get to be david
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schwimmer or matt leblanc but i could do it with empathy and dignity. >> when it started off, everyone was like how gay can it be? >> did you know i was gay when you met me? >> my dog knew. >> the answer was apparently you couldn't go gay enough. >> i give you my ass. >> there was two openly-gay men who were very different. and we were able to see, oh, being gay isn't just one thing. >> i just want to know how long i am going to have to wait until i can see two gay men kiss on network television. >> not as long as you'd think. >> humor, i think, is a great way for anyone to connect. >> i just couldn't believe. >> a lot of people out there, owe us a big, fat thank you. >> it was kind of risky, at the time. but the network found out, yes, there's an audience for this. >> i think that really changed things for people. because they fell in love with these characters and they realized, well, what's the
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prejudice? >> i think "will and grace" probably did more to educate the american public than almost anything anybody's ever done, so far. >> can you believe it? they are getting married in four days. i love weddings. >> it's not strictly a wedding it's a same-sex civil union, which affords many of the same rights as a marriage. it's not strictly a honeymoon, it's a same-sex vacation with lot of the same events as a honeymoon. >> barack obama said he was opposed to gay marriage but people's opinions change. >> modern family came at the right time and it came in right on the heels of "will and grace." and it just kept the engine rolling, which is -- is very helpful. >> you just made a little girl very happy. >> yes, well, i can see that. >> i think a lot of people really love mitch and cam together. and it was very heartwarming to -- to hear from people who, you know, were in straight relationships saying my husband is just like mitch. or my wife is just like cam.
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>> all they cared about was -- was raising their daughter well. and they loved each other. and they were sweet to each other. >> this amazing-looking guy. >> i am not amazing. really? >> i wouldn't change anything. >> we were like this trojan horse that came into the living room. it's like their hearts accepted us, before their minds did. and why wouldn't you want them to be married? >> on the steps of the supreme court, jubilation among same sex marriage supporters, as the court cleared the way for same sex marriages to resume in california. >> the whole mitch cam getting married was sparked by that supreme court decision. >> mitch is on a computer sort of watching and people are celebrating in front of the supreme court. >> can you believe this finally happened? >> modern family created this whole, new level of comedy that you wouldn't, necessarily, get in a traditional male-female relationship. >> you would really like it if i proposed to him. >> i have outdone myself, gloria. i booked the restaurant from our first date. >> tire. >> oh, my gosh.
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oh, my god. oh, my god! >> and then, it, of course, it ends with them on the side of the road trying to fix a flat tire. >> yes. >> that's what i think humor can do. it can open up people's minds and people's hearts. >> and i do think that "modern family" could probably take some credit for making america more 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 that are on some of the streamers, we're beginning to see stories, like the thanksgiving episode from master of none. and that is only because these lgbtq creators from the black and brown communities have been given platforms to tell their stories.
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>> being gay isn't something black people love to talk about. >> why? >> some black people think being gay is a choice. and when they find out that their kid is gay, they try to figure out what they did wrong. >> it takes someone going through the door for us to have the representation. >> ma, i'm gay. >> you what? >> winning an emmy for writing the thanksgiving episode which was essentially her coming-out story. that's revolutionary. >> i've always been gay. >> you don't have to sacrifice anything to, still, be both entertaining, thought provoking, and, you know, spark conversations. >> i'm happy for you.
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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 collectively a little bit conservative when it comes to issues of sex. >> don't get all caught up in this having open dialogue with
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your kids hoopla. it's not natural. show me one place in the bible where a kid talks. >> we want 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 f'd. >> no, i think i know you from college. >> then we probably f'd in college. >> i thought it was time to lighten up about sex. >> what's the big mystery? it's my clitoris, not the sphinx. >> in the 1990s we hadn't seen shows that are frank about women's sex lives, about their romantic lives.
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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. teeth placement and jaw stress and suction and gag reflex.
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honey! they don't wcall 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 look 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 to do to you. big boy. >> oh, yeah. who's your daddy, bitch?
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>> 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. 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
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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 mess. >> nothing was off the table. >> you like that? >> people were shocked at what she was doing. >> so good. 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 pussy's broken. >> 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 dick do? >> or do it 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. >> this is my favorite bit. >> playback was just a revelation. >> hi. >> hey. >> it felt dangerous.
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>> 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 that 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 with beds that had to be separate. you couldn't say the word "pregnant."
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>> 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. where did you get those? >> a machine, you want one? >> no. >> you come home, turn on that television. >> i don't want it. >> what do you want? you want comedy. >> take one. >> no, kramer, stop it! >> boom there, you go. situation comedy. >> there's 23 minutes of magic. >> it's so tasty, too! >> you fell in love with these characters. >> what you talking about, willis? >> we need to laugh at ourselves. >> you hide my clothes, i'm wearinevyt

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