A Man is American TV

Americans treat “American” as an ideology, not a matter of blood or country. Historically, there were three things that made a person American: their church, their job, and their family. Americans were churchgoers. Americans were company-men. And Americans worshiped the nuclear family.

Though churches still carry a lot of heft for many Americans, they’ve declined in the northeast and the southwest — the two places most American TV shows come from. Without the church, American identity becomes defined by work and family. Thus, the central concerns of American TV shows are work and family. (And, increasingly, work as family.) Can you imagine an American TV show where a character rejects or is rejected by his family for a reason other than work? I can’t. What about an American TV show where a group of friends remains nothing more than a group of friends, never metastasizing into a familial substitute? Me neither.

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