Since its inception, television has served as a lens on American society, and in the expansive world of modern TV, today's heroes and villains have come a long way from their predecessors. America in Primetime showcases this iconic American art form, which has both reflected and shaped our national character. The four-part series premieres Sundays, October 30-November 20, 2011, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET on PBS. America in Primetime is a production of WETA Washington, DC, and The Documentary Group, in association with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation. Funding is provided by the Annenberg Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS.
America in Primetime presents some of the most compelling shows on television today, as well as those of the past, by focusing on key character archetypes - the man of the house, the independent woman, the misfit and the crusader - that have remained a staple of primetime through the generations, capturing both the continuity of the character and the evolution. Each episode of the series focuses on one of the key archetypes:
"Man of the House" showcases the evolution of men from The Kings Of their castles in classic family sitcoms to more intricate, conflicted figures in modern shows. Interviews include Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner ("The Cosby Show"); David Chase ("The Sopranos"); Bryan Cranston ("Breaking Bad"); Ron Howard ("The Andy Griffith Show"); Carl Reiner and Dick Van Dyke ("The Dick Van Dyke Show"); and Phil Rosenthal and Patricia Heaton ("Everybody Loves Raymond"), among others.
"The Crusader" delves into the increasingly grey area between right and wrong as television heroes confront internal demons while seeking their own forms of justice. Interviews include Alan Alda ("M*A*S*H"); Steven Bochco and David Milch ("NYPD Blue"); Chris Carter and Gillian Anderson ("The X-Files"); Bob Cochran and Joel Surnow ("24"); Michael C. Hall ("Dexter"); Shawn Ryan and Michael Chiklis ("The Shield"); and David Shore and Hugh Laurie ("House"), among others.
"Independent Woman" reveals how women have transformed from model housewives to complex, and sometimes controversial, characters. Interviews include Roseanne Barr ("Roseanne"); Candice Bergen ("Murphy Brown"); Eva Longoria ("Desperate Housewives"), Robert and Michelle King and Julianna Margulies ("The Good Wife"); James L. Brooks and Mary Tyler Moore ("The Mary Tyler Moore Show"); and Shonda Rhimes and Sandra Oh ("Grey's Anatomy"), among others.