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tv   History of the Sitcom  CNN  November 27, 2021 7:00pm-8:00pm PST

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be the butt of the joke. in fact, that's why we made this town so accepting. the town is the goal. it's the family that had a lot to learn. ♪ >> sitcoms are an escape. the more dire the circumstances, the more you need sitcoms to forget about your troubles. >> we're going to the good place in a freaking gold balloon. >> that's what we have. that's what helped me escape. >> every single one of you is a
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good person. >> when i'm feeling kind of hopeless and sad, i get to laugh and lose myself and remember life's not that bad. you're in the good place. >> the beautiful thing about the sitcom is it has provided so much joy in times of uncertainty. >> there's a lot of pressure in the 160s, this notion of new products and everything being new, this kind of brave new world. >> everything's about the future and modernizing. >> yes. it's all bright and shiny and you get cars that look like spaceships. but then it's. >> suggested we bomb north
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vietnam back into the stone age. >> yabbabadabadoo! >> if you recall. ♪ from the town of bedrock ♪ >> in the guise of a stone age setting. ♪ have a gay old time. ♪ >> just can't wait till they instrength faucet. >> with all the progress that was happening in the late 50s and aet sifts, the flint stones is an escape and the question is progress good. >> it was kind of a sat tire on this consumerism, get the you inest thing for your kitchen, get the newest car with these kind of stone wheels. >> they have a stone that has wheels but you need your legs to make it move. i bet that is how they did it.
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>> a lot of people thought it was cartoon on saturday. >> i'm seven years old. my mom used to get just furious. schaiking angry at me for watching the flint stones. because it's really a show for adults. >> i remember, i was so sad for betty and the fact that they couldn't have children. >> we're so anxious to have a baby we take it out on fred and wilma. >> they talk about adopting. >> the baby, the baby. >> that's newsroom. >> we want to do everything according to law, ma'am. >> that had not been heard before. >> it was a smash hit. >> it was on for six years. >> ya-hoo. you're the greatest. >> it was on the cutting edge of escapism for an american audience that was hungry for it. >> the communist rulings of east
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berlin reinforce their barricades. >> there's so much turmoil in terms of the civil rights movement, in terms of vietnam. there's a real crisis of identity. >> and there is a pattern in american entertainment of when things get really serious, we got to get silly. >> i just don't understand it. >> don't try to. it's bigger than both of us. >> people just needed to escape and go watch a talking horse. >> cut it out. >> not until you call the police. >> my mother the car where this guy's car was haunted. his mother haunted a car. >> it's about a car and it's the mother? the flying nun. >> i wanted to be a nun when i
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grew up. >> i think i get the hang optical this. >> i knew i couldn't be a flying nun. i knew i couldn't be a nun, either. >> in the 1960s, most sitcoms were just fun and over the top and silly. >> you laugh because someone else is falling on the banana peel. that's the essence of escapism. >> it's deeply appealing in this idea of being able to shake off the shackles of civilization and go again. ♪ ♪ a tail of a fateful trip ♪ ♪ that started ♪ the tale of the fateful trip, started as something or other. do you know it? >> i just put myself on the island with gilligan. >> a bunch of crazy people. they get stranded on the island, no surprise there. i always felt so bad for them.
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it's like are they ef going to get off that island? >> my father had this idea how do ki get seven people and put them together so they can't get away from each other, people of different types. so he went to cbs and jim arbery was the president. jim aubry didn't see how viewers want understand and so dad went only theme night and wrote the song and gilligan's island went on the air. >> they could make a latrine. they could make huts. they could make radio receivers. they could make a cinema complex. a raft was beyond their capability. >> the critics hated it. thought it was the worse show ever. >> this is the stupidest plot ever. it won't last five years. >> have to stay here for a long,
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long time. >> i just remember laughing so hard that gill again and scaper were balanced. >> look at us. it's like a cantaloupe. >> i knew what a cantaloupe was. >> neither marianne fan or a ginger fan? >> marianne. >> i had the hots for the professor. >> he's got a point there. >> i love gilligan's island. it was to me really smart. >> my dad wanted to create a microcosm of society. he wanted the skipper to be leadership and mr. howell to be cameraism, the professor to be sbe electric actual, ginger to be vanity. >> does paper keep us afloat? does money keep us afloat? >> there were no black people on
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gilligan's island. >> the island is a metaphor for the earth. a lot of the contemporary events and stress from, we could say nuclear annihilation to political conflicts like the cuban missile kriefls. >> with all the turmoil and everything that was going on in the world then, it was an escape from everybody and it made you happen. >> i would like a world with international good will where the spirit of brother hood and all for mankind. thank you. >> seven completely different people, raised dichbltdly, different values, really trying to get along and we did. >> gilligan, you're always doing dumb things. when you do something smart, it's beautiful.
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♪ ♪ >> be home at 7:30 to watch him in that phone booth. >> "get smart" was a district satire of james bond, which was the biggest thing in movies. >> bond, james bond. >> and we satirized the blank out of it. >> oh. allow me, princess. >> he's spiced up, he's got the february in the shoe. >> i will take credit for the shoe phone. >> smart, maxwell smart. >> which happened to be the cell phone which i should have patented and i wouldn't even be talking to you. >> the cone of silence. >> the case i signed 9 to has to
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do with the formula. >> what? >> agent 686 couldn't actually hear each other. >> the code signs would never work and it would work in a different way every time. it was too fast. >> it would hit the desk. >> a lot of catchphrases are in part of our culture. >> i loved when he'd say sorry about that, chief. >> sorry about that, chief. missed it by that much. missed me by that much. thanks. >> would you believe -- >> i shall be able to rip these chains from the wall in one minute. would you believe it? one minute. >> i find that hard to believe. >> would you believe two minutes? >> every job he was given, he totally failed and agent 99 would help hem out.
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she was sharp. >> micro cosmic. >> you certainly have a way with words, 99. >> teentsy-weentsy. >> i counted six shots. >> they're making a terrible mistake. >> you're the one with the .38 special. >> barbara weldon, rolling her eyes at the camera was her feminist statement on get smart. >> there were never direct references to what we should think about what was going on in the '60s. what was subbersive about get smart and framing in the world in such broad strokes that if
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you as the viewer wanted to attach meaning to it. >> once you're laughing, you forget everything. laughter is a wonderful diversion from thinking about death. >> it's airing in the '60s at the pinnacle of the vietnam war. it's when the marines are being sent off to vietnam. >> you could see like dead bodies on the news every night. and so the idea that you could then escape with a show like gomer pyle has appealing because people didn't want to think of the military in solely negative terms. it was definitely a feeling like let's have a guy who's almost like a thoughback of the old g.i. in the cartoons. >> gollee. >> golly golly golly golly. >> gollee. nothing will happen to your car. >> gomer pyle was many things
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but it was not in any way reflective of vietnam. >> this is even worst than being married. >> we couldn't watch was dwoemer pile. mother said there were enough idiots in the world without people acting like idiots. >> just pranks and fun. pure escapism. >> escape from stall ag 13? that's a good one. >> it debuted in the midst of the vietnam war. >> i have to go to those news reels. >> hogan's heroes. can you imagine that pitch? guys, it's going to be great. >> let's sit calm about a nazi prisoner of war, i'm just spitballing here. i'm thinking nazis, men trapped without running water.
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>> i'm in. ♪ ♪ >> my dad and i used to watch "hogan's heroes" together and laugh, laugh, laugh. ♪ hogan, showing an ♪ >> you never, never underestimate your enemy. >> i was not here. >> this is airing when there are many americans trapped in vietnamese prison camps which are not a very funny thing to think about. >> television was like if we come up with really broad ideas that are full of slap stick comedy, people will want to gravitate to that. >> you know, where did that come from and with that, you get to release all that angst and with that comes humor. >> it is attacking.
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human. >> humor is always an inversion. fts always can we find what's ironic about this situation. >> and thankfully, we have sitcom as a medium to do that for us. it's an escape.
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we need laughter. we need sitcoms. we need it. because if you don't laugh, goddamn it, you're going to cry. >> new york city area blacked out last night. court-orred bussing remains one of the most politically charged issues which this country. the search for gas becomes an every other day ordeal. >> when you were looking at the '70s there was a lot of let's not look at that complicated stuff right now. let's make it go away. "the love boat" was the ultimate in fluff. ♪ ♪ love exciting and new ♪ i can't go that low. tonight? tonight? aboard we're expecting you ♪
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the love boat ♪ the love boat, makes you smile, doesn't it? >> my agency called and said i finally watched this little thing called the lo boat. >> it's great. >> people hollywood that abc snood for arons broadcasting. >> he had a touch for knowing what the audience wanted to see. >> the love boat. sitcom or not a sitcom. sitcom. >> love boat was a new format for a sitcom. >> i think the love boat is a sitcom. >> love boat was not at sitcom. no. >> to me, the love boat was a sitcom. >> it spammed what we thought we knew as a sitcom. >> all i know is it was a hit. >> it was usually comprised of three story lines. one would be a pure comic story.
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one would be a mellow dramatic story. >> how do you tell the lady that you love she's never going to walk again. >> and one would be a romantic comedy. >> i'm just a bar the ender, and you're a star. >> they used a laugh track which was never really done, especially in an hour filmed show. >> don't worry about the termites, lady, because when the house falls, it will kill them. >> they had laughs, but there weren't laugh, laugh. >> charro was outrageous. she was so free. coochie coochie coochie. >> i was on the love boat four or five times. >> what are you gawking at? >> i guess i didn't expect to see so much of west virginia out here many middle of the ocean.
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>> i often marvel at how wrong some of knows plots are. >> and i'll be back with your prescription. >> it's practically a cave map beating the woman over his head sometime and dragging the woman back to his cabin. >> now the shift's doctor could not sleep with a paepg. >> it provided an escapist experience because you could feel like you were on a cruise escaping your life. >> entertainment has changed. everything has changed. human beings are still human beings. people want happy endings. they need happy endings. >> bye. >> bye. >> and we gave it to them every saturday. >> in 1977, abc was pure escapism. it was a formula that really ep shurd success. >> oh, come on! don't take it so seriously. >> abc was flying high with
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happy days, lavern and shirley, the $6 million man. the bionic woman. j abc could do no wrong. >> so the premise of eight is enough is a man, tom bradford, has eight children. he of course has a wife but that wife passed away. he falls in love again. the kids still brooefg the mother now have to deal with this other woman. >> we're getting married to each other. >> we were the evolution of the pretty bunch. >> oh, come on. you'll never know it. we break a little rule or two. >> who's going to tell them? >> you wouldn't squeal, would you? >> it was a dramady and a longer
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form show. >> for missing dinner. >> because we know where she was. we didn't know where you were. >> i was eating pizza. >> a family that sits down and discusses things. really? >> i want to know what you're going to do about tommy. he's got a party saturday night and he's still a kid. >> why don't you mind your own business. >> eight is enough is a rrp to something that seemed maybe safe. you look at the ra and what's going on. divorce rates sores in in 'sets. it's breaking apart. >> i'm eight. i can understand complicated things. >> women are weird, that's all. now, move. >> the world had come out of this revolution and anger and everybody's looking for chewing gum for the eyes. >> all of a sudden it's like let's watch a family that's working. let's watch a family that
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♪ i see trees of green ♪
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♪ red roses too ♪ ♪ i see them bloom for me and you ♪ (music) ♪ so i think to myself ♪ ♪ oh what a wonderful world ♪ there was growing evidence that the nation's crack cocaine epidemic is taking a new and dangerous turn. >> in 1981, the number of major crimes reported to the new york city police department reached a
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record high. >> new york was a dangerous place, a lot of crime, a lot of conflict. >> disturbing the peace and assault. >> i can't be held accountable. >> night court conscious cannily avoided the realities of life in new york. let's not be so serious. >> what night court was doing was presenting a very happy faced version of what you would see if you went to a night court in manhattan. >> she did nothing of her own will. it is my doing. >> it's more about the humor of the people involved. >> do you believe all this higher consciousness stuff? >> huh? >> whole point of it was like very weird people come into this building every day.
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>> see you later. >> hi, mr. donned, do you have anything to say? >> i'll be brief. >> the characters were not dangerous and the crimes were usually very minimal. >> what's he going to do? spank you? >> there's a prosecutor, he's the lovable ass hole, if i can say that. >> jealous. >> hey, guys. people, look at this. marsha was one of the funniest women ever. you see her? >> a little water might help that growth. >> it was all escapism. >> mr. shea's an amateur magician, your honor. >> it's a way to pivot from the
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actual news. you know that's not necessarily the reality of the situation but that's why it's called tv magic. >> even successful magicians sometimes spend life times fruit leslie trying to develop -- >> night court takes this gritty aspect of the city and gives you a sunnier version of it. new hart at the same time is an interesting parallel to night court. n newhart is looking for an inn in vermont. >> he was married to suzanne pleshette and he was a therapist. >> are you going to sleep? >> no. i'm going to lie here and let my nostrils -- i like it. >> i thought maybe the second
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show should be about a nymph. >> that's really out there, isn't it? >> what? >> nature. >> in the nesh. >> if you'd like i can introduce you to mud. >> i'm convinced that the reason bob newheart is excruciatingly funny to me is because of his deep sensitivity. in a sense, the thwarted descent sense si. >> i miss you more than you miss me. >> i do, too. i do, too. i do, too. >> he does. ok. >> bob newheart thrives as a comedian when surrounded by eccentric people. >> i got the catalog in the vent. >> what was it? >> i don't know be but when i woke it up, it ran off. >> complicated characters.
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>> this is larry. this is my brother daryl. this is my other brother daryl. >> through my back out the other day. >> sound like a tough job. >> wasn't a job. i just like crawling under houses. >> the best of all time is the finale of newheart. >> i've got to get out of this warehouse. >> it was investigative. >> to do the finale of the show, bob newhart fed a fake story to the papers. >> i told the cast what was going to happen. i didn't tell the crew. we set we've added a scene, just keep shooting. >> wake up, you won't believe the dream i just had.
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>> she throws back the covers and it's suzanne pleshette. >> she was snuck into the sound stage. >> all right, bob? what is it. >> i was an inn keeper in this craziest little town in vermont. >> we just watched nine years of a dream. >> it managed to tie both shows up with a bow and it's probably the most escapist example of a sitcom series finale. the tempur-pedic breeze° makes sleep...feel cool.
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we know how good it feels to be with our families. how it warms and comforts us. how it gives us strength and joy. >> there was this emphasis on being a good person. >> we're still a family. and now is when we really need to stick together. >> in the late '80s after eight is enough, there was always these squishy soft focus families, like "full house." >> at that time, the family sitcom is almost like a disney
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movie. >> i told you, everything is going to work out super great. >> you've got it, dude. >> and it puts pressure on american families to live up to some ideal that has not existed in decades, if it ever existed before. the economy is starting to thank. we're at war and we're not going to live better than our parents. but when the simpsons come along, they just blow that apart ♪ ♪ the simpsons ♪ the simpsons is escapist because no matter how much of a couch potato or, you're not going to be as bad as the simpsons. >> the effect of cigarette smoking on dogs. >> i think it's hard to understand how controversial it is. >> i'm looking for bea a problem. >> do i have a bea problem here?
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>> i remember the impression like children are never allowed to speak like that. >> what's going on there sn. >> i think bart's stupid again. >> i'm a man h fan of the simpson. there's no one who does the higher joke density. >> i think it's genius. >> that story telling on the simpsons was so unlike anything that came before it. there were these ornate broek stories. they could have a second scene at a nuclear reactor and jump somewhere else. >> endlessly clever. so many good characters on the simpson. >> casts a long shadow. he's a great ville anne. his relationship with a rake. you -- destroyed him. >> the simpsons, great animations, love it. >> tracy, what are you doing here? you're all better. >> nobody tells necessity these
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things. >> when the simpsoning came out, it was a massive hit. >> this could be the best day of my life. >> the simpsons helped usher in the modern era of animation. >> hey, brian. what's up. >> is it an escapist form? usually you're looking at something more colorful than life. >> you can be risky and obscene and transdressive and really, really dig into humor that other shows are kind of afraid to touch. >> oh, god, it's so bloody naughty. i need to be taught a lesson and you're the one to do it. >> it is wrong to eat human beans. >> says you. >> south park took that a whole leap further. >> oh, my god, they killed kenny. >> you bet they -- >> they make mart seem like
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we'ver believer. >> hey, lady, bitch. >> in the '90s we see the rise of the concept of political correctness. audiences were looking for an escape for that. >> she showed the power and the comedy that you could find in being politically incorrect. >> all right. but it looks like we have 2. -- wow. 2.9 inches. wow. >> i think about south park. it's full of comments about modern subjects. >> i had a sex change operation. i am experiencing womanhood the first time in my life. see you in class. >> it would push the envelope in such an extreme way but in the voice of a child. >> jesus was black. regulary was the devil and the government is lying about 9/11. >> boon docks were south park.
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>> dives deeper into a subset of the community that white people maybe don't see at all. the dharkts aren't human get to say things people might be able to say. >> how many times have i told you better not anticipate dream about telling white people the truth. >> one of the most hilarious episodes was martinez martin coming back and seeing how black people were living and being shocked. >> i had a dream once, but lo and behoeshlgsd some four decades later, what is are i found but a bunch of triefling, shiftless, good for nothing [ bleep ]s. >> whether it's about racist white folks, whether it's black folks being problematic on themselves, the boon docks did not pull any punches. >> can't run this one on the white man. what am i saying?
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of course i can. >> when i was a kid, my top sitcom was probably dinosaurs. >> shake it, mama. >> it was bonkers. >> everything that the jim henson company does is escapist. >> hey. frozen dinner. >> oh, that's great. >> the original idea was all really generated in the year that my father jim henson passed away in 1990 and he just liked the idea of dinosaurs who live so irresponsibly that they will inevitably go extinct. >> there's bound to be some unfortunate casualties. >> what he loved about sitcoms is when they could do something powerful. >> what this show actually was was always a warning. >> it sounds like we're clairing war on nature. >> exactly. >> dinosaurs have like very good '90s style, you know, let's take
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care of the climate earth messaging. >> no plants means no food at all. >> the finale of dinosaurs is one of the best finales inform movies ever. >> are we going to move? >> well, no. there's no mace to move to. >> we always knew that that irresponsible treatment of the environment in dinosaurs had to destroy the planet. >> and because it was pop etry, because they weren't human beings spouting at you, you tolerated it. hi susan! honey? yeah?
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♪ i see trees of green ♪ ♪ red roses too ♪ ♪ i see them bloom for me and you ♪ (music) ♪ so i think to myself ♪ ♪ oh what a wonderful world ♪
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where we became increasingly aware of all the horrible inequalities that our society was built upon, how do you exist within a world that is built to reward the worst people too often? >> the way the world is changing, with women, with black lives matter, all of it, we're at a point now in comedy where people need to continue to push
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boundaries. >> all animation presents a brightly colorful world that's more interesting than our own. the better way to make us face, the way in our reality is being let down particularly shows like bojack horseman. >> well, that was a another in a long series of regrettable life choices. >> what'd you say? >> bojack horseman is netflix's animated comedy that's set in hollywood in which talking animals coexist with humans. >> are you drunk? >> todd, i way over 1,200 pounds. it takes a lot of beer to get me drunk. yes. >> it imagines what if a mr. ed-type ended up becoming a dad in a full house-style sitcom. >> we were lost and now we're found and we're -- horsing
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around. >> he is a washed up sitcom star. >> party at my house tonight! >> and he's turned into this alcoholic depressed still rich, formerly famous actor. >> nothing is lonelier than a party. good thing i don't need anyone. >> oh, bojack horseman is so good. >> let's move in together. let's do it. >> it sucked you into forgetting that it's an animated show, that these are talking animals. >> it became this perfect vessel to poke fun at a lot of excesses of our current culture. bojack is harder on hollywood than anything equivalent in live action comedy of recent years. >> this is so sad. you always hear about mass shootings affecting other people's movie openings, but you never think they're going to affect your movie opening. >> in the latter season you get this really dark bitter -- >> who put pills in my house?
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>> -- deeply moving account of a person who has been declining to face his problems for his entire life. >> what are you so happy about? >> there's something escapist about watching bojack dealing with these really heavy-duty crises, which if you were watching a human do that in a sitcom, it would be devastating. >> is it terrified? >> bojack horseman was asking a question a lot of us were asking, which was how do you be a good person? >> you know the way you feel when you see a baby tiger and shim chimpanzee become friends, that's how you're going to feel. "the good place" is a show about four people who died and went to hell and a demon who made them believe they were in heaven.
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>> during your time on earth every one of your actions had a positive or a negative value. >> a show like "the good place," i don't think it could have existed without animation pushing the boundaries of what people will watch. >> today we'll start with something that everyone has always wanted to do. >> flying. [ applause ] >> now that you are dead, let's live a little, right? >> i supposed there is a fantasy escape element to it where they are in a magical place where there is a character named janet who knows every fact about the universe. >> janet, i am finished with cleanup and i'm ready to fly. how do i start? >> hop on the launchpad and conjure an image that brings you pure joy. >> people puking on roller coasters. people puking on roller coasters. >> but, there is always a sort of weird, looming threat. i think kept it from pure escapism. >> is that giant terrifying lady bug supposed to be there? >> great question. no, no it's not. >> "the good place" came out in 2016 right when a lot of people
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are feeling incredibly disillusioned by trump's election that year. >> we will make america great again. >> at the time where i think people were craving that kind of dialogue talking to our veterans. >> i am sorry, i am so grumpy, i wanted to get my hair wet and i want to talk briefly to someone and say take it sleazy. >> i think there's so many big things happening in the world right now, to have a message that kind of is it's going to be okay, this is your place in the universe, keep trying to take care of your soul a little bit. >> "the good place," i think it's an actually perfect show. >> anyplace or thing in the universe can be up to 104% perfect. that's how you got beyonce. >> you don't realize that they're talking about really deep fisophical things about good and bad, who are we at our core and can we change.
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>> oh, god. >> the trolley problem really showed what the show is trying to do. >> we're in a trolley car. it was chidi with his hands on the control trying to figure out who to kill and who not. it pointed out we're faced with these horrible choices all the time, and we should have some empathy, you know, because they're hard. >> make a decision. >> on the one hand if you prescribe to a -- >> it was a very funny scene. >> okay, so, what have we learned? >> there's something escapist about letting all these things we're dealing with here play out in this fantasy world. >> that's the whole idea about tb. >> i recommend full cellphone battery. >> oh, it somehow tastes how i felt when my cellphone was fully
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charged. so relaxed. >> people like laughing, and i think when they laugh they're more likely to listen to what you have to say. >> nothing more human than that. besides texting people you're five minutes away when you haven't even left the house. >> thank you. >> you're very welcome. i'm not obsessed with sex. i just can't stop thinking about it. >> sexuality has come a long way in sitcom history. >> can you donate a penis to a person who's transitioning? >> laughter is a great way to deal with a very tricky world. >> daddy horny, my god. >> sitcoms talk about sex. >> my underwear. >> my god. >> and about relationships. >> i'm breaking up with him


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