The Corner

The Paper of Record, Again

Yes, yes, we all know that, according to the New York Times , Ronald Reagan is somehow responsible for most of what has gone wrong in the world over the last thousand years or so, but it was still surprising to find the following claim in the middle of Alessandra Stanley’s Thursday piece on the demise of Friends:

“”Friends” came along after the Reagan-Bush recession of the late 1980’s and early 90’s, a period that had fostered shows like “Married . . . With Children,” “Roseanne” and “The Simpsons,” caustic comedy centered around dysfunctional, financially strapped, families.”

Really? “The Reagan-Bush recession”? Sigh. Let’s take a look again at the record. Married… With Children was launched towards the end of the Reagan presidency, in 1987, a year when GDP was growing between 2-4 percent a year, the fifth consecutive year of GDP growth. Roseanne slouched onto our screens in 1988, another year of solid economic performance. In 1989, it was Homer Simpson’s turn to show up and, yes, the rate at which GDP was growing fell that year from around 4% but it was still expanding – by slightly above 2% – in December. By the time the economy finally (and fairly briefly) entered into negative territory, the Gipper had been out of office for almost two years, and all the three shows supposedly fostered by this supposed Reagan-Bush recession were well-established.

The truth is much simpler. Married With Children, The Simpsons and Roseanne were shows designed to reflect the hardscrabble realities of the Everyman existence, a life that can be tough, recession or no recession.

Just ask Al Bundy.


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