Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Summer 2018

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Daniel Herman

Second Committee Member

Jason Dormady

Third Committee Member

Craig S. Revels


This study analyzes the relationship between American television audiences and television comedies in the latter half of the twentieth century. The driving questions are how did television comedies depict economic content and how was that content related to American audiences' economic perceptions? By analyzing eight television comedy programs, this study asserts that not only did television comedies contain a substantial amount of economic content, including consumption, thrift, employment, and other significant and relevant economic factors, but the economic content found in television comedies accurately reflected Americans' economic attitudes over time. As a result, television comedies' economic content further correlated with real-world economic conditions found in modern America. The study includes comparative analysis between television comedies of the 1950s and early-1960s and the late-1970s and 1980s. This analysis includes discussion of television as a mass culture medium, the significance of television program ratings and reviews, and the change and continuity found in the forms of economic content within the selected television comedy programs that in turn illustrated the different economic mentalities held by the American public over the course of the latter half of the twentieth century.