Garry Marshall David A. England - Essay

David A. England

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The humaneness of the Fonz is one of the most unfortunate oversights in many of our students' viewing weeks. In our day, the Fonz is a throwback, not only to the halcyon days of the fifties (my, how we romanticize the past!), but also to a time when right and wrong were easier to define, when one could be both "cool" and respectful, and to a time when teenaged passion was an innocuous as a kiss. True, kisses meted out by the Fonz are frequent and lengthy, but he is recognized by others in the series as being good at other things as well—as well as being consistently good.

I have a nagging feeling that judged by contemporary adolescent standards, the Fonz would be considered "out of it." He is almost too straight, too moral, and too sensitive to others. He reveals his emotions too directly, too honestly, and too often. When Richie fell very ill, the Fonz wept and prayed. Lost amid the music, the sometimes admittedly silly plots, and Fonzie's overt mannerisms, is a positive role model who consistently demonstrates that it is possible to be "cool" and be good. (p. 100)

David A. England, "Television and the English Teacher," in English Journal (copyright © 1979 by the National Council of Teachers of English; reprinted by permission of the publisher and the author), Vol. 68, No. 8, November, 1979, pp. 99-102.∗