Television in the 1970's pushed the envelope as to what was acceptable with a rise in sex and drugs on TV along with more adult topics - the general public was getting concerned with where television was headed. The federal government held hearings about what was being broadcast in every genre of television from dramas to cartoons.
Americans also wanted shows that explore genres like mysteries and crime, game shows that require real skills and knowledge rather than simple house party games, and news programs and talk shows continue to dominate morning and daytime television.
Just as we had seen in other areas of Pop Culture in America during this decades we also see African Americans star on situational comedies like the Jeffersons and an increase in roles on other traditionally white programming.
Television was becoming more representative of the America that watched it and this trend would only continue as we head into the 1980's.
Task 1: Watch the Introductory Video to this Unit (5 minutes)
Task 2: Explore the provided video and attached links for Television during the 1970's (35 minutes)
Television had watched America grow up through the 1960's and the 1970's brought an era of exploration and pushing the envelope on what had once been considered scandalous just years before. Shows became more sexualized, shows featuring African Americans rose to prominence and the expansion on news programming was significant.
Take some time to explore the different programming on television in the 1970's
Explore beyond the examples provided on this page
At the end of class you will be asked to share some of what you discovered
What are THREE (3) trends that developed in television programming from the 1970s?
What is ONE (1) similarity to the previous decade?
What is ONE (1) major shift from the previous decade?
Task 3: Free Explore and Wrap Up Questions (10 minutes)
The super 1970's were a groundbreaking time in television history. As social climates changed there was a decline in the more wholesome programming audiences were accustomed to. This led to a new generation of shows focused on issues of the day such as race, equality and politics. The 70's had an abundance of excellently written sitcoms like Laverne & Shirley and The Bob Newhart Show and dramas like The Waltons and Marcus Welby M.D. Variety shows such as The Carol Burnett Show and The Sonny and Cher Show became popular among TV viewers during the latter part of the decade. (https://www.classic-tv.com/shows/decade/1970s )
In the 1970's Game Shows became about skill and knowledge, viewers wanted to see real life people be challenged with questions that tested their skills and smarts. You see the rise of shows like the $10,000 Pyramid where players race against the clock to answer questions and win money, shows like Family Feud placed families against one another to answer trivia questions and the Gong show let everyday people share their strange and sometimes amazing skills with the world in a comedic platform and walk away with some cash. Television creators had learned from the earlier decades and moved beyond dressed up traditional household games and the magic of television began to take shape in the world of Game Shows.
The Gong Show
Television in the 1970s pushed what was considered acceptable to new limits. Many of the shows that came out challenged bigotry by making fun of it. Television entered a new age of candor. Its bold programming of ethnic humor and taboo “adult” themes ﬁnally began to mirror the increasing permissiveness of society, although it was only a pale reﬂection of the anything-goes spirit of movies. The trend was pioneered by “All in the Family,” a situation-comedy series that spoofs bigotry and dares to be funny about such touchy topics as homosexuality, impotence, and menopause. (https://www.retrowaste.com/1970s/tv-shows-from-the-1970s/ )
The Brady Bunch
The Muppet Show
Cartoons in the 1970's were beginning to take more chances and leverage success in other genres of television and making cartoon versions of the show. You start to see spin-offs of other shows and an expansion on the type of cartoon that was produced. Cartoons were no longer just for kids in the house, cartoons were becoming more popular with the older population as they were the first population to really experience the Saturday morning cartoon craze. New cartoons took on issues that were more mature and in some cases began to insert more adult images as well. This caused some issues with conservative Americans, but it was a hit with the viewing public and these types of shows continued to emerge and expand throughout the 1970's.
The Pink Panther Show
Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo
Talk shows in the 1970s did a little bit of everything as they built on the concepts introduced in the 1960's you see many of the same stars and programs remain throughout the 1970's. However, several new shows did emerge. You see the birth of talk shows and variety shows that represent the African American community with shows like Soul Train, you see a rise in morning talk shows with show like Good Morning America starting in the mid-1970s and late night news programs that talk about national and international issues like 20/20 become increasingly popular. It is a decade of pushing the envelope and you either had to be a part of it or report on it. The talk show genre did a little bit of both.