After my TV was replaced and I got access to YouTube on it, I stumbled last night on one episode of The Honeymooners. The series was made in 1955-6 on a simple set with a small cast. Jackie Gleason is the over-sized bus driver, the Common Man that commedia dell’arte never really got – grumbling short-tempered humanity who just manages to fall into line eventually each time. His wife, Alice, is up to it – and exquisitely cast. ‘Peanuts. What do I do with peanuts?’ ‘Eat ‘em. Like any other elephant.’
The show is nearly seventy years old. now It now has its own sense of ritual. Ralph is as big a character as Falstaff, but the series savours of both Don Quixote and Waiting for Godot. It does feel that elemental. I don’t think the Americans have made anything like I since. The English, yes – the U S, no.
In America, now, there does not appear to be any appetite for or capacity to create a show about the tribulations of the ordinary bloke – who ultimately accepts his lot because he is in God’s country. Now the not so well off go out and vote for a crooked property developer who evades military service and paying tax, and who wants to tear the whole place down. And they invent a world of their own that is so much more unreal than anything we might see in a seventy year old television show.
What a falling off was there.
TV – US – The Common Man – Trump – theatre.