Television reflects modern society '30 Rock,' 'Dexter' capture post-millenial zeitgeist


How many people haven't had the urge to murder one or two bad guys. Sell some marijuana to make ends meet. Or behave like a bad boss. There's a little Dexter Morgan, Nancy Botwin and Jack Donaghy in everybody. Today, couch vigilantes get their kicks out of watching shows like "Dexter," "Weeds" and "30 Rock," not to mention seven other WGA-nommed TV shows.


"Television is catching up with American life in many ways," says Dr. Drew Pinsky of "Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew." "We are looking more realistically at our family structure and our pathology. Fifty years ago, the mirror that is television had us watching 'The Flintstones' as a reflection of our family life. Now it's 'The Simpsons.' "


Dexter Morgan is the serial killer with charm. "People believe that the system has failed them," explains celebrity divorce attorney Raoul Felder. "And they're hailing somebody who takes the law into his own hands. He's like Charles Bronson in 'Death Wish' and people are cheering."


"People are looking to vent," adds TV shrink "Dr. Phil" McGraw. "It's a safe outlet for them to live vicariously. They don't have to do anything bad. They don't have to sacrifice their morality. They can sit on their couches and quietly urge this guy on."


"Weeds" portrays both ends of the moral spectrum. "We have a widowed housewife on one end. Your heart goes out to her," Felder observes. "And, at the other end of the spectrum, she's a marijuana dealer. From illegality to conventional tragedy, there's a lot to be sympathetic about."


When people look back at the 2000's, they're also going to remember "Lost," "Mad Men" and "Friday Night Lights" and muse about our cultural evolution.


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