Today, I’m looking for your pick for the oddest lesson that a sitcom ever tried to EARNESTLY get across in an episode.
Pop Culture Theme Time is a feature where I put a question to you to see what you think about a particular theme. I might later revisit the theme for a future Drawing Crazy Patterns or Top Five.
Now, as you might be aware by now, sitcoms are prone to trying to get across “lessons” to its viewers. A lot of these lessons are quite normal and logical. You know, like “Don’t cheat, don’t steal, etc.” Sometimes, though, the lessons can be a bit stranger, and it is debatable whether they were lessons that actually needed to be learned or not.
So what I’m looking for is what you think is the oddest lesson that a sitcom ever tried to teach. Remember, it has to be an EARNEST lesson. It can’t be ironic, or absurdist, it has to be something that the show legitimately was trying, earnestly, to teach.
My pick is from Growing Pains‘ Season 4, “Feet of Clay,” where Jason Seaver (Alan Thicke) takes Ben (Justin Miller) to meet his idol, rock star Jonathan Keith (played by a young Brad Pitt, who had previously played a love interest of Tracey Gold’s Carol in the previous season of the series) after Maggie (Jason’s wife and Ben’s mom) gets them backstage passes due to her job as a reporter. Jason overhears Jonathan being a total jerk, and then Ben accidentally discovers Jonathan cheating on his wife with a groupie. A devastated Ben never wants to listen to Jonathan Keith’s music ever again. Jason, however, tells him that he can’t let Jonathan’s attitude keep him from enjoying his music. He tells Ben that Gary Puckett is in town, they can see him instead if he wants, because Jason happens to know that Puckett was a really nice guy. Ben replies, “Dad, I don’t like Gary Puckett’s music” (screw you, Ben! “Young Girl” rules!). Jason replies, “Oh, so you go to a rock concert for the music?” Ben concedes the point, and they go to the concert and have a great time.
So, Growing Pains took an episode to teach kids to…separate the art from the artist? I mean, even if you BELIEVE that, that’s an awfully weird lesson for an episode.
Okay, that’s my pick. How about you?
Everyone, feel free to suggest future Pop Culture Theme Time topics to me at my new, much shorter e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org!