PERFORMING ARTS

Tragedy Plus Time: National Trauma and Television Comedy

Univ. of Texas Pr. Apr. 2021. 280p. ISBN 9781477322543. $50. FILM
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In addition to providing laughs, our favorite comedy television shows often have a big impact on society. Scepanski (film and television, Marist Coll.) offers examples of the way TV comedy reflects and constructs reactions to national traumas like the JFK assassination, the September 11 attacks, and the L.A. riots. Focusing on comedy programs from the 1990s and early 2000s, including Family Guy, South Park, The Simpsons, and In Living Color, the author adeptly explains how these programs not only offer a means of escape for viewers processing national trauma, but also create new narratives that bleed out into national dialogue, with perhaps unintentional but wide-reaching consequences reverberating in the United States today. Scepanski’s prose is readable, though thoroughly academic.
VERDICT A must for media and communication studies departments, this work will also appeal to many comedy fans, traumatologists, and the generally curious.
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