This blog post is of great importance. This post will dive into the complex question, “How is the audience involved in the show?” Well when it comes to “F is for Family” the animated postmodern sitcom created by Bill Burr, the successful comedian connects to the audience in a familiar but, unique way. This Netflix original has recently been produced within the past year and did very well for just a 6 episode season.
“F is for Family” is based off of the creator’s personal experiences and ideas. Bill Burr grew up in the 70’s and the entire show is based off of his childhood context. If you would like to understand how this show represents reality, check out my previous blog post here.
If this show was not animated it still wouldn’t follow TV’s mainstream guidelines for family oriented sitcoms like “That 70’s Show” or “Malcom in the Middle“. If you want to know more about “Malcom in the Middle” check out my fellow Communications and Media Scholar Ian Talty’s page here. This show adapts the family sit com genre and puts a raunchy satirical twist to engage the younger demographic. The 70’s was a time in the American history when the target audience’s parents were either young adults or growing up just like the main characters were in the show. The shows raunchy dialogue and 70’s context attracts multiple age demographics at the same time.
I found a quote from a website called the Artifice by a writer named Robyn McComb and focuses on a raunchy animated comedy that almost of all of you have heard of titled “Family Guy”
But Family Guy and other social commentary shows like it appeal to a very unique and somewhat split demographic. The demographic is unique because the pop culture references embedded in Family Guy’s format are primarily drawn from the 70s and 80s, so only previous generations are guaranteed to get all the references; yet, the humor tactics involved appeal to younger people and can even be called “immature.”
Read the full post here.
This split demographic that “F is for Family” and “Family Guy” attract are why these shows are so successful. This is where sub textual content comes into play for the audience. Cultural references form the 70’s are burned into our heads and we could even attribute this to the communications Social Learning Theory. This theory in short terms explains how we absorb and retain things from what we see and learn from life experiences. If your parents are showing and talking about things from their childhood or past you will retain this. I find myself knowing what songs are being played in “F is for Family” just from listening to them with my parents growing up. It is rewarding and stimulating for audience members to pick up on subtext which makes the show more enjoyable. This show is dripping in intertextuality which makes it awesome for middle aged adults and impressionable teens.
When it comes to the characters of the show there is literally a character for any audience member to relate to. This show does a wonderful job expressing the not so pretty family issues through characters present at all walks of life. Whether you’re a father who works to keep his family afloat or a 10 year old kid who gets bullied there is always a situation a character is in that would be relatable to you the audience member. I find myself always relating to oldest son of the three children. He finds himself in moral dilemmas of whether he should drink beers or study for that history exam. This show is relatable because the issues the characters face could happen to any middle class blue collar family today.
The issues depicted in “F is for Family” are always solved and the family learns a lesson from each member’s mistake. It shows how bad things can get but, at the end of day all you got is your family. This show makes you cry, laugh and feel fuzzy inside all at the same time. It’s the ups and downs that keep the audience coming back for more.
Now the family dynamic is what makes this show easy for audiences to eat up. This show throws old patriarchal norms and makes them hilarious. The bread winner, the stay at home mom and the American Dream are always present. In today’s society the old school norms are being put to rest more and more. “F is for Family” allows the audience to see back in time and see what it was like for the characters to adapt and overcome gender issues in marriage. To see how ones society was and how far we have come would be interesting for anyone. The wife character known as Sue shows girls that they can go out and get a job. This show also shows that it wasn’t easy but, puts an innocent comical spin on it. The issues that are so hilarious in this show were once our society’s main issues and were the end of the world to some people. It important to understand “F is for Family” shows how far our society and are social norms have progressed.
In conclusion “How is the audience involved in the show?” was a very simple question to answer. Through this Netflix Original Bill Burr’s childhood is thrown out into the open for everybody to see. By appealing to our past experiences and culture Bill Burr keep his audience coming back for more. Through the use of intertextuality, audiences are enticed and thrilled when they can pick up on the little things that, either they understand or got from their parents. This split demographic that, TV shows like “F is for Family” grab the attention of the audience, used to be a niche in TV viewership. It seems like the success of the niche and the genre, means Bill Burr’s wonderful raunchy comedy will be smashing through old school social norms like their going out of style for seasons to come.