|Barney Miller. Getty Images, ABC Photo Archives.|
Barney Miller (1974-1982) is definitely one of my very absolute favorite television shows among several other great shows from the 1970s. Barney Miller had a very diverse cast for a show that began in the 1970s, and strongly contrasts the lack of diversity in mainstream media today as the 12th Precinct police detectives and the reappearing characters identified among different genders, races, ethnicities, sexualities, and abilities. The characters portrayed and established transcend the often dehumanizing social categorizations as they are portrayed as fully developed characters rather than typical stereotypes. None of these characters were ever constructed stereotypically nor were any of them confined to typical stereotypes. Instead, these characters countered common stereotypes which were addressed and subsequently opposed. No character was ever dehumanized as a sense of humanity was always maintained in each episode that humanized each character by providing a reminder that people are people regardless of their identities--- identities which are often used to excuse and justify violence, injustice, inequality, and oppression.
|Barney Miller. "Vanished." January, 1980. Getty Images. ABC Photo Archives.|
We are still dealing with the same issues regarding discrimination, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, the mistreatment of youth (all basically a result of ignorance and the refusal of some to see humans only as their label/identity rather than acknowledge them as actual humans), environmental concerns, political/judicial/social corruption, and several other systemic issues that continue to persist.
|Barney Miller. "The Layoff." Season 2. September 1975. Getty Images. ABC Photo Archives.|
The only problem with these fantastic shows is how difficult they can be to find and the fact that they rarely air on television. Sometimes these shows can also be found on the internet but it takes a lot to find full episodes. Luckily, there are channels like Antenna TV and Me TV that show Barney Miller episodes and rewinds back to other classic and hilarious shows.
Overall, the show is brilliant and amazing as it addresses several important issues at the time, which are still issues of our time. It is a sitcom that appropriately and maturely deals with some really serious issues comically and is full of substance, something that seems to be lacking more and more throughout many popular, usually substance-less, diversity-lacking television shows.
Photos: Getty Images, ABC Photo Archives, Sony Pictures.