Sitcoms that influenced us and our parenting

(CNN)Ask anyone who grew up in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s about their favorite sitcoms and they probably won’t miss a beat, answering quickly and with tremendous passion about shows that influenced them in countless ways.

For comedian Judy Gold, it was “Rhoda,” the 1970s spinoff from the smash hit “Mary Tyler Moore Show.”
“For every Jewish girl, I think it was ‘Rhoda,’ ” said Gold, who wrote and starred in the critically acclaimed one-woman off-Broadway show “The Judy Show: My Life as a Sitcom.” “To see this sitcom where this Midwestern All-American woman’s best friend is some Jew from New York, it was like, ‘Wow, I’m represented.’ “
Amanda Rodriguez, an African-American mother of three, remembers watching “The Cosby Show” with her family and wanting to grow up to be just like the Cosbys.
“I went to college and majored in criminology because I thought I was going to be a lawyer. ‘Oh, I’m going to be a lawyer like the Cosby mom, and I’m also going to have kids, and I’m going to have this big family and have it all,’ ” said Rodriguez, founder of the blog Dude Mom. “They were the ‘have it all’ family.”
 “What ‘Will & Grace’ did for the LGBT community is beyond,” Gold said. Current shows such as “Black-ish,” about an African-American family; “Fresh Off the Boat,” about an Asian-American family; and “Speechless,” about a boy with special needs, are examples of the kind of diversity in programming that can entertain but also educate, said Ciulla Lipkin, of the National Center for Media Literacy Education.
But as far as sitcoms have come, there is still a “long way to go” in terms of showing the actual diversity that exists in the country and moving past stereotypes, she said. The costs of a lack of diversity are enormous, she added.
“If you simply look at just what is happening in the Muslim community right now, is that for the great majority of Americans, they don’t have a close relationship with someone who’s Muslim, so all they see is what they see in the media, and unfortunately, what we see in the media is either the news, which portrays them in an incredibly negative light, or they’re being portrayed that way in television shows,” Ciulla Lipkin said.
“We need to start seeing representations of all kinds of people on TV, even in comedy. The impact of a character on a sitcom with a hijab could be one small but effective step towards getting Muslims to be seen in a different light,” she said. “We need to open people’s eyes and we have to be willing to push boundaries to do that. “

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