Television writing is an art and a craft, but due to the scale of the entertainment business, it’s also industrial and formalized — and a little bit formulaic, which is something that’s really noticeable in the multi-camera sitcoms of the seventies and eighties. Personally, I think its reliance on formula is one of television writing’s greatest strengths. Hell, it produced stuff like M*A*S*H, Cheers, and The Golden Girls, didn’t it? And a lot of shit that’s not worth talking about, but given all the quality television that came out of the system, I’m willing to bet that system is not solely to blame for all the garbage (though it is somewhat responsible, I admit).
Anyway, given the often plug-and-play nature of TV script writing back in the day, I can’t help but wonder why there was never been (to my knowledge, correct me if I’m wrong here — I can only watch so much classic television) a sitcom featuring a former first lady who divorced her husband sometime after leaving office. I mean, right? Basically picture The New Adventures of Old Christine except that Old Christine used to live in the White House, and be married to the “most powerful man in the world.”
It would have an immediate connection to a number of exploitable themes: Confronting the stereotype that says that first ladies don’t really have their own talents, while also dealing with the idea that women who do not work outside the home don’t really “work”; coping with the fame of an ex-husband that you’d rather not think about, who is also, to some degree, the only reason anybody knows who you are; The general problem women have being taken seriously, regardless of their qualifications; and so on.
I don’t think you could make a show like this now without it ending up being some kind of scatology-obsessed vector for potty-mouthed sex jokes. Which would be fine, and it would be another dirty old lady role for Betty White to cash a paycheck for, but I’m kind of picturing Candice Bergen after Murphy Brown in the lead role, with some likable schlemiel-type guy as the ex-pres (he’s kind of dumb, but people like him for some goddamn reason, and it’s a little irritating). If I had a time machine and any script writing ability, I’d be pitching the shit out of this.
As it is, I don’t know what I’m talking about or what I’m doing half the time, so I’ll just write about it here where no one can see it, and it won’t hurt nobody.
Also — this isn’t related, but I just thought of it — why did the Duke boys drive around in a suped-up Charger? Wouldn’t it have been more appropriate for them to be haulin’ ass in a jacked-up pickup truck? Also, was there an Australian version of The Dukes of Hazzard? I’d watch that…