Television as the Old-Fashioned Morality Tale

Back in the Middle Ages, players would stage morality plays in town centers. The plays, which often revolved around an Everyman character, could be boisterous, funny, saccharine, maudlin, sentimental, religious, thought-provoking. They were, in fact, medieval sitcoms.

Modern sitcoms attempt and often achieve the same feat.

Frasier, "Door Jam": Frasier and his brother Niles schmooze their way into an elite day spa. They are happy until they realize that there is a "gold" door (a step up from the "silver" door at the front of the spa). They wheedle and maneuver until they get through the gold door to a more upscale, exclusive area.

They enjoy their day at the spa right up until they are placed in the "relaxation grotto" where they spot--oh no!--a platinum door. Determined not to be withheld from the "grass is always greener" next exclusive area, they plunge through it (despite being warned not to), only to find themselves standing in the alley outside the spa, surrounded by bees.

Pride--in this case, envy and covetousness--comes before the fall.

Coach, "Uneasy Riders":  Dauber and Coach buy motorcycles even though their women (Dauber's fiancee, Coach's wife) would not approve. Desperate to avoid an argument, they keep moving the motorcycles around--from the college to the shed to under the porch. The episode ends with Coach and Dauber hiding under the front porch of the cabin. They hunch  over the motorcycles as the two women greet each other above.

"Yeah," Coach says, "this is freedom!"

What a tangled web we weave . . .

A life lived in fear is a life half-lived . . . and doesn't involve much freedom.
*Or, as Helen Keller would say, "Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold."
*In terms of politics: a scramble to protect personal liberty at all costs can often result in a loss of all freedoms.
*In terms of religion: "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it . . ."

Friends, "The One With the Lottery": When the friends buy a bunch of lottery tickets together, they instantly begin to fight over how they will spend the money and who should get the money and whether or not they should share all the tickets. The only person who doesn't fight: Joey, who puts the welfare of his friend Chandler above his own monetary desires. The fighting only ends when Chandler gets the job he wanted--it won't make him and Monica as rich as the lottery, but it will give them more satisfaction.

The lust for money is the root of all evil. 

This is a proverb that I wish I could test more often.

Good thing television does it for me!

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