I’m going to take a little break from talking about human suffering in on screen to bring you a different way of encountering social norms through television.
Enter the legendary British sitcom Absolutely Fabulous about trashy London women working in high fashion in the 1990’s. I’m an older millennial and I remember watching the show when it aired in the US on Comedy Central. I didn’t really know what was going on but they talked funny so I was hooked. Now that I live in London and call myself a “media anthropologist”, it seems as a good time as any to revisit.
While on a flight I came across an old episode where main character Edina gets an electronic organizer and it ruins her life. Well, her life was already pretty horrible but the device ends up becoming a total nuisance and she throws it out the window. My iphone is practically an extension of my body, so I winced a little at that scene.
Later, she calls her assistant Bubbles to come over and take notes. The strange blonde pixie arrives with a pad and pen and Eddie asks, “Where is your computer?!” She had previously told Bubbles to get a “lap top”. Confused, and perhaps a little scared, Bubbles reveals she has a tiny “lap dog” in her purse.
This episode, “Door Handle”, aired in 1995 and is curiously anti-technology. Even in the newer iterations of the adventures of Edina and Patsy, the two never really come to terms with the way technology has changed their society. They stay fabulously aloof. Given that in the 90’s their characters were anachronisms constantly pining for their younger days with “Mick and the boys”, this all fits neatly together. So who could really blame creator Jennifer Saunders for failing to recognize where mobile phone technology might go?
What older TV shows have you re-watched and felt a pang of nostalgia for their technology?