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EPISODE 65 — Why Pop-Culture Hates Poor People

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When your favorite sitcom characters take their obligatory once-a-series trip to Vegas, unless that specific episode is about how Chandler loses it all on black, or Kramer comes up with a scheme to count cards, we never see them face the mundane consequences of taking an expensive vacation: eating ramen for a few months, missing the trip back home for Thanksgiving, putting off the wisdom tooth surgery.


Movies get money wrong too. Why does every post-apocalypse just look like a dirty Los Angeles when the present-day hovels in India, China, and Brazil seem much worse?


This week on the podcast, editor-in-chief Jack O'Brien is joined (in-studio!) by editors Kristi Harrison, and Jason Pargin (aka David Wong) to discuss how TV and movies have completely shattered our expectations when it comes to how money actually works.

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A modest counter-example imho is Malcolm in the Middle. Even the city didn't look clean. There were surprisingly concrete effects of poverty in that show.

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I think the trend outlined in this article explains much: The Middle Class is Steadily Eroding. Just Ask the Business World.

Entertainment is driven by advertising to consumer spending. Increasingly that spending is concentrated in a smaller and smaller fraction of society. So entertainment increasingly caters to people with the highest incomes and portrays their lifestyles as normal.

You seem to be missing the point. These shows are not marketed to rich people and in most of these sitcoms, the main characters are supposed to be working class.

It's still being made for the same people, but you don't show them the actual consequences of buying that house or that furniture on a security gaurd's wage, or whatever job the characters have.

Shows about rich people are not made for rich people either. That's silly. Millionaires are not the ones watching real housewives and they are not a big enough group for television to just market to them exclusively.

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Last night my wife and I watched a horror movie about a foursome frolicing around on their last weekend in Ireland. I immediately thought, I could not stay in Ireland more than a week with my job -- and these were college students.


I also hate to inject race into this, but black characters are rarely shown at home unless it's a black-produced show. Sure, there are exceptions now, but way fewer in the past. I'd like a study on this. Listening to you, I wonder what type of home they would have shown Kramer's black lawyer have on Seinfeld. Even people like Pete on Smallville or Bonnie on Vampire diaries. On Dynasty, Diahanne Carroll's character was rich, but her mansion was never shown. they showed her in the office and at Denver. We never see them curled up in their overpriced beds and sofas.


Think of the black friend, Deacon Palmer, on King of Queens. Now, can you remember his house? Probably not.


I remember people said that the Cosby show, a show with a doctor daddy and a mommy lawyer, was unrealistic. Too nuclear. But I remember watching that show in my nuclear family home. This was a show that ran opposite Dallas and the say after Dynasty, shows about billionaires.


In that same era, Hill street blues showed cops with nice homes but never showed the black cop's homes. Bobby Hill had no home and the Det. Washington's home was dingy and dirty and dark the one time they showed his very unhappy wife. His wife looked poor, I mean really poor, and Washington had the same salary as the other cops.


Just what I took away.

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One more thing I noticed:


The thing that killed me is that we NEVER had a remote control for the TV in the house I grew up in because we couldn't afford cable, but in the Honeymooners and in most black and white movies set 30 years earlier, they all had them.

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