“Laugh-In” first hit the small screen more than 50 years ago. “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons” debuted in 1971 and 1975, respectively.
And now all three are back.
Netflix recently rolled out “Still Laugh-In: The Stars Celebrate.” The reunion special, featuring original cast members like Ruth Buzzi and Lily Tomlin, recreated classic bits from the show. The original “Laugh-In” leaned to the left, but it brokered comedy bits with a wink, a smile and a bikini.
The reunion special trashed President Donald Trump in coarse terms, by comparison.
This week, ABC recreated two classic episodes from “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons.” The episodes touched on race, class distinctions and other issues near and dear to original creator Norman Lear’s heart. Stars like Woody Harrelson, Marisa Tomei, Jamie Foxx, and Wanda Sykes brought Archie Bunker and friends back to life.
Nostalgia sells. That’s never been more true than at this cultural moment. Just ask the folks behind “Stranger Things,” a show that refuses to let the ’80s go away. There’s something else in play, though.
Today’s stars leverage everything in their arsenal against President Donald Trump. They flex their social media accounts, incorporate anti-Trump rants into films and TV shows, and turn awards shows into Democratic pep rallies.
Robert De Niro alone spends more time cursing out President Trump than starring in movies worthy of his talent.
So it’s only natural to look to the past to hit Trump anew. The “Laugh-In” special allowed progressive stars to do just that. The sitcom recreations, though, offered a more subtle approach to the same model. The shows leaned on the original scripts with only minor modifications.
The “N-word,” uttered on TV during the 1970s, got bleeped when Jamie Foxx said it during the live broadcast.
Lear, still spry at 96, helped introduce the recreations. In doing so he hinted at the bigger purpose behind them.
“The language and themes from almost 50 years ago can still be jarring today,” he said, as a bit of a warning. “And we are still grappling with many of these same issues.”
Lear and co. were more forthright in press interviews prior to the broadcast. They admitted the Trump era helped bring their unique project to life.
The press, eager to use any and everything to attack Trump, echoes those sentiments in their coverage. Other outlets made it sound as if little racial progress had been made since the 1970s, which is balderdash.
Netflix doesn’t release ratings for its programs, but a considerable crowd gathered to watch ABC’s sitcom recreations. That means more will surely follow. And, have no doubt, the episodes chosen will reflect messages progressive Hollywood wants to share in the Age of Trump.
The creative team behind the Lear reboot all but said as much. And, given the fury behind the Hollywood “resistance,” would anyone bet against it?