The 1980's was all about television and self expression. Television was coming into its own with the passage of the 1984 Cable Act which allowed for more TV networks to launch and through the decade over 70 new networks launch that focus on niche markets. The birth of the first 24-hour news station was launched with CNN, music lovers were sucked into a world of music videos with the creation of MTV and sports programming became an all day affair with ESPN launching in 1979 and going 24-hours in 1980.
The big three NBC, CBS and ABC had to create new compelling content to draw in viewers that had more options and more diverse programming. Shows like COPS that followed police in real life situations emerge and game shows start to expand to include families, children and potential mates.
At the same time sitcoms had reached the beginning of their "golden age" with family based shows for families to watch together. Shows like Family Matters, Full House and The Cosby Show tackled real issues facing families and provided comedic relief to the daily grind.
By the end of the 1980's, there was no turning back, television was at the center of American Pop Culture.
Task 1: Watch the Introductory Video to this Unit (5 minutes)
Task 2: Review the provided videos and attached links for Television during the 1980's (15 minutes)
Task 3: Exploring Movies in the 1980’s (30 minutes)
Just as television was seeing an expansion of niche programming, the same phenomenon was occurring within the movie industry. You see a growth of targeted audience films that speak to or highlights the changing trends and focus of the nation and blockbuster films that reinforces current values.
Back to the Future
Beverly Hills Cops
Good Morning Vietnam
When Harry Met Sally
Many movies do not speak directly to the times, but rather the things that are important or of interest to Americans. As you select your movie make sure it represents the times in some way and was well known enough that it is easily recognizable.
Your research should include:
The name of your selected movie
A picture of the movie poster or promotion
A video clip or advertisement or the movie
Explain what the movie is about
The year it was released
Why it represents America in the 1980's
Task 4: Submit your work on GOOGLE CLASSROOM
As NBC, ABC and CBS's share of the television audience was steadily encroached upon by cable in the 1980s, network television responded in several ways. At first, NBC followed the most effective strategy, introducing a diverse schedule of programs that attempted to retain their hold on the undifferentiated mass audience while also developing their own targeted audiences in the cable model. A handful of such old-fashioned action-adventure shows as The A-Team (1983–87), Riptide (1984–86), and Knight Rider (1982–86), the latter of which featured a talking car that fought crime, helped ease NBC out of third place in the first half of the decade. (https://www.britannica.com/art/television-in-the-United-States/CNN )
Game Shows and Reality TV
In the 1980s, game shows suddenly became more physical. People doodled on Win, Lose or Draw. Kids slithered through giant PB&J sandwiches on Double Dare. Contestants smashed buttons on Press Your Luck. The Price Is Right introduced Plinko. (https://www.metv.com/lists/7-strange-short-lived-game-shows-of-the-1980s )
As we progress through time, the more creative we get with the types and genres of shows we watch. A new fad came into American pop culture known as reality based television. Reality TV is typically defined as, non-fictional programming in which portrayal is presumed to present current, historical events or circumstances. The production itself must be a realistic account. Generally included in this category is...real world events, police or emergency worker drama, and live quiz shows. (https://oregonstate.edu/instruct/soc499/cordray/media/Realitytv.html )
Mr. Gerhardt in the 1990's
There was a certain vibe that reverberated through the comedies of the 1980s. The gritty, biting comedic satire that defined the 1970s was out (for the most part) and wholesome ensemble comedies were in. Sitcoms had a certain lightness to them. Even the darker moments were couched in a kind of ABC After school Special lesson. The laughs and the tears were tempered with a can-do attitude and dressed in shoulder pads and, occasionally, dayglo.
NBC began its reign as the undisputed king of prime time comedy during this decade with list of long-running shows and name stars that made other networks jealous. They spawned the careers of quite a few budding actors and breathed new life into a others. From muppet-like aliens to old friends in the twilight of their lives, NBC seemed to hold every demographic and this is a list of the best of what they had to offer. (https://www.houstonpress.com/arts/10-best-nbc-sitcoms-of-the-1980s-6381506 )
The Cosby Show
One of the biggest influences on 1980s TV animation was Ronald Reagan. As president, Reagan’s aggressive deregulation stance upon taking office in 1981 also extended to his FCC.
Mark Fowler (Reagan’s FCC commissioner) felt that rules regulating advertising on children’s TV weren’t necessary, as the free market should be free to determine programming choices. Thus, it’s little surprise to anyone said market “determined” shows based on toy line were ideal.
The 1981-82 TV season didn’t see any reflection of these deregulation rules. Despite being the early 1980s, its lineup still reflected what was in vogue in TV animation the late 1970s, aside from the debut of that season’s biggest hit, “The Smurfs”. However, the debut of “Pac-Man” in 1982 plus some shows in syndication was the start of the trend of shows based on toys and other product lines.
The most famous of these toy-based shows were “He-Man,” “Transformers,” and “GI Joe,” all airing in syndication on weekday afternoons. “He-Man” was probably the main cartoon that kicked off the toy-based show craze, debuting in 1983 (as did “GI Joe”). It was popular enough to see a live-action film, as well as a spin-off, “She-Ra”. (https://www.diversetechgeek.com/2018/07/20/influences-trends-1980s-tv-animation/ )
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
In the 1980s, soap operas ruled the airways. But a shift occurred late in the decade — when everyone started noticing that talk shows hosted by Phil Donahue and Geraldo Rivera were becoming more and more deliciously controversial (anything to drag eyeballs away from the marital affairs and amnesia plot lines of soaps). With sensational story topics like midget-tossing, paternity suits, Neo-Nazi nonsense, brawling transvestites, and grisly murders, several talk shows followed their lead. Enter “Trash TV,” which featured the likes of Jenny Jones, Ricki Lake, Maury Povich, and Jerry Springer. (http://www.vh1.com/news/88786/outrageous-daytime-talk-show-moments/ )
The Oprah Winfrey Show
The Sally Jesse Raphael Show
The Late Show with David Letterman
The 1984 Cable Act established a more favorable regulatory framework for the industry, stimulating investment in cable plant and programming on an unprecedented level.
Deregulation provided by the 1984 Act had a strong positive effect on the rapid growth of cable services. From 1984 through 1992, the industry spent more than $15 billion on the wiring of America, and billions more on program development. This was the largest private construction project since World War II.
Satellite delivery, combined with the federal government’s relaxation of cable’s restrictive regulatory structure, allowed the cable industry to become a major force in providing high quality video entertainment and information to consumers. By the end of the decade, nearly 53 million households subscribed to cable, and cable program networks had increased from 28 in 1980 to 79 by 1989. Some of this growth, however, was accompanied by rising prices for consumers, incurring growing concern among policy makers. (https://calcable.org/learn/history-of-cable/ )
In 1981, MTV: Music Television goes on the air for the first time ever, with the words (spoken by one of MTV’s creators, John Lack): “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll.” The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star” was the first music video to air on the new cable television channel, which initially was available only to households in parts of New Jersey. MTV went on to revolutionize the music industry and become an influential source of pop culture and entertainment in the United States and other parts of the world, including Europe, Asia and Latin America, which all have MTV-branded channels.
In MTV’s early days, its programming consisted of basic music videos that were introduced by VJs (video jockeys) and provided for free by record companies. As the record industry recognized MTV’s value as a promotional vehicle, money was invested in making creative, cutting-edge videos. Some directors, including Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Three Kings) and Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), worked on music videos before segueing into feature films. In the 1980s, MTV was instrumental in promoting the careers of performers such as Madonna, Michael Jackson, Prince and Duran Duran, whose videos played in heavy rotation. (https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/mtv-launches )
On June 1, 1980, CNN (Cable News Network), the world’s first 24-hour television news network, makes its debut. The network signed on from its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, with a lead story about the attempted assassination of civil rights leader Vernon Jordan.
CNN went on to change the notion that news could only be reported at fixed times throughout the day. At the time of CNN’s launch, TV news was dominated by three major networks–ABC, CBS and NBC–and their nightly 30-minute broadcasts. Initially available in less than two million U.S. homes, today CNN is seen in more than 90 million American households and over 160 million homes internationally. (https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/cnn-launches )
By the end of 1983 ESPN was cable's largest network, with a reach of 28.5 million households. In January 1984 ABC, Inc. bought a 15 percent stake in the company, then acquired control of the company six months later. The acquisition of ESPN by ABC put the sports network on firmer financial footing and provided a foundation for its phenomenal growth in the coming years.
When college football on television was deregulated through a court decision in 1984, ESPN began broadcasting Thursday and Saturday night games. These college football broadcasts helped improve the image of ESPN's audience with advertisers, who began noticing upscale demographics among ESPN's viewers. When ESPN announced it would cover the 1986-87 America's Cup competition, advertisers quickly bought up all of the advertising time for the network's 70 hours of coverage of yachting's premiere event. (http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/espn-inc-history/ )