Tuesday, December 1, 2009
'Office' plotlines reflect recession anxieties
By: Zachary Pienkowski
(CNN) -- Dunder Mifflin, the fictional paper company at the center of NBC's prime-time comedy "The Office," is facing bankruptcy. Staffers in the Scranton branch are anxious about their fate.
"The Office" is among a great many prime-time shows that have integrated recession-era themes into their plotlines this fall in an effort to reflect the changing American economic climate. Art imitating life on television can offer a sense of solidarity for the viewing public and a new type of coping mechanism for dealing with recession-related stress.
"Shows that deal with the recession help people to validate the full range of emotions they are feeling right now," explained Stephan J. Quentzel, psychiatrist, family physician and director of Beth Israel Hospital's Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine in New York.
"It doesn't trivialize the experience. It shows people they don't have to put on a good face and think positively. It helps them realize that they are angry, and that's OK, and that is why watching these shows is so therapeutic."
Without an entire show based specifically on the recession, financial uncertainty and economic realities have infiltrated the secondary plotlines of shows like CBS's "The Good Wife," where impending law firm layoffs on a recent episode led characters to throw furniture as they cleaned out their desks.
The anger that is apparent on the show is exactly what Quentzel means by fans being able to relate to a full range of emotions through viewing them on the small screen.
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