Macleans critic Jaime Weinman looks at left-wing bias on prime time TV, the topic of a new book by conservative pundit Ben Shapiro:
I get that Shapiro might look at TV, which is made mostly by people with socially liberal attitudes, and get upset. But first of all, there’s no alternative to television with a social or political point of view, not if you want shows to be entertaining. A good show will reflect its’ creators experiences, opinions and lives to some extent; if they try to airbrush anything from their own experiences from the show, the result will be a bland show that fails. Attitudes and beliefs are a part of anything that’s any good, and even things that aren’t. And besides, trying to leave them out doesn’t really work; Jay Leno is bland because he will not express a point of view in his comedy, but certain assumptions (right, left or some weird combination of the two) are encoded into many of the bad jokes he tells.
I agree that there's not much of an audience for scripted shows that bend over backward to avoid any kind of political view. A bland talk-show host like Leno gets viewers (at least after prime time), but how many people would want to watch a scripted comedy with someone like him in the lead?
And as Weinman points out, liberal bias in prime time seems limited to social issues like gay rights and gun control. (Abortion is a glaring exception; characters can talk about being pro-choice, but they can only excercise that right on shows that few people watch anyway, like Friday Night Lights.) Economic issues are another matter. Very few TV characters are in labor unions, and low-income Americans are rarely shown except as victims/perpetrators of violent crimes and in "poor people get along just fine" comedies like My Name Is Earl and Raising Hope. Prime time TV actually seems much less overtly liberal than in the days of All in the Family and M*A*S*H.
Coincidentally, the TV clip below has recently become a minor Internet meme. I hope the conservative watchdogs get this commie sitcom (still being repeated 50 years later!) taken off the air, or at least balanced with The Joe Arpaio Show.