Norman Lear, the prolific genius of television, whose trailblazing sitcoms in the 1970s and 1980s not only revolutionized US entertainment but also helped change the way a nation saw itself, has died at the age of 101, as reported by Agence France-Presse (AFP).
By politicizing the personal and personalizing the political, Lear became an entertainment giant. I Photo: TED Conference Flickr
With boundary-breaking shows like "All In the Family" and "The Jeffersons," Lear helped millions of viewers confront their deepest fears, frailties, and prejudices, as well as their aspirations, with humor and humanity.
Among his milestones was creating the first African American nuclear family regularly appearing on television: the Evans clan on "Good Times," beginning in 1974.
He injected sensitive subjects of race, sexuality, class, inequality, and politics like the anti-war movement into his work, breaking the sitcom mold and beaming modern visions of family life into millions of US households.
Lear abandoned the idealistic representation of American families seen on shows like "Leave It to Beaver" (1957-1963) and instead adopted a more faithful, real-world depiction—and in doing so, he changed the face of television.
"What was new was that we were engaging in reality," the famed creator said in the 2016 documentary "Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You." By politicizing the personal and personalizing the political, Lear became an entertainment giant.
Fellow comedy icon Mel Brooks hailed Lear as "the bravest television writer, director, and producer of all time."
In the mid-1970s, at the height of his eight-decade career, Lear had five popular sitcoms airing in prime time—an era before cable or streaming, when Americans collectively consumed shows in real-time. Broadcaster CBS estimated at the time that a staggering 120 million Americans watched Lear programming each week.