Norman Lear John J. O'Connor - Essay

John J. O'Connor

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[With "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman," Lear and his company] are taking the venerable broadcasting form of soap opera and are attempting to work simultaneously on two levels: one straight, to be taken seriously; the other slightly bent, to be sampled with a sense of humor that is "satirical, humanistic, and realistic."…

A press kit explains that "far from being a broad parody of soaps, the series would subtly satirize people as they behave in day-to-day situations—never straying from reality." The problem is that the soap-opera form itself tends to resist satire, except perhaps in brief spurts of broad parody. In its pure form, soap opera already can work on straight or slightly bent levels,...

(The entire section is 410 words.)