An Analysis of the Television Sitcom, Different Strokes

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An Analysis of the Television Sitcom, Different Strokes

Different Strokes a comedy sitcom, first aired in 1978, and lasted until 1986. This sitcom consisted of a widowed Manhattan millionaire, Phillip Drummond , who adopted two orphaned brothers. Arnold who was 8 years old and Willis who was 12. The boys' mother was Drummonds housekeeper who became very ill, so Drummond made a promise to her that he would take care of her two sons after she passed away. Drummond treated the two boys like his own. He also lived with his daughter, Kimberly, who was 13 years old, and his current housekeeper. This sitcom showed typical life lessons in growing up, and social problems that were occurring during that time. Some of the aspects of this show were both positive and negative.

Positive Aspects

In this sitcom there are several different ways in which minorities are positively portrayed. For instance, even though Arnold and Willis were two brothers of another ethnic background and race, Drummond who was a Caucasian millionaire still took these boys in. Another example of positive portrayal is that Drummond also called Arnold and Willis his “sons” not just his adopted children. He raised them as if they were his own children. The third example of a positive portrayal is that in this sitcom they showed evidence of social problems, such as racial discrimination. They realized that it did exist and that it was a problem. Finally, this sitcom also showed how blacks and whites could live equally and be happy together. These four portrayals are definitely positive and show how two minorities were portrayed in “Diff’rent Strokes”.

Negative Aspects

Different Strokes, which was first televised November 3, 1978, was one of the better, most influential shows of that time. This show was a perfect example of how minorities were portrayed to be unable to support themselves. The African American family characterized in this show was a single mother family, leading to the belief that most African American children were without a father in their lives. In agreement with the stereotypes of the time, their income was also low because the mother was a housekeeper. The audience may presume that she had no other skills than housekeeping which leads to the negative belief that African Americans have no job skills. In addition to these family problems and income issues, the children spoke slang and were even referred to as ghetto.
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