Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Sonny and Cher on Television

There was a time back in the 1970s when variety shows were all the rage.  The closest thing we have these days are the contests like "America's Got Talent" or the late night talk shows, or the current godfather of them all "Saturday Night Live," but there was a time when they ruled prime time television.  There was Carol Burnett, Donny and Marie Osmond, the Captain and Tennille, Shields and Yarnell, Flip Wilson, even the Brady Bunch, there were dozens, and then there was Sonny and Cher. 

Cher, and her older mentor husband Sonny Bono came to prominence in the 1960s as the pop duo Sonny and Cher.  With their hits "The Beat Goes On" and "I Got You Babe" (each would later become their theme songs on TV), they were an odd coupling.  The hippies thought they were straights, and the straights thought they were hippies, giving them an almost universal appeal by default.  They began playing Las Vegas, where they developed the banter and chemistry that would make them TV stars. 

Their variety show ran for three seasons before their divorce ended it.  The next season featured two new shows, one for Sonny and one for Cher, followed in the next season by a new show featuring them both.  No longer married, but still friends and working partners, the jokes were a bit meaner and subtextual.  Audiences loved it in all its incarnations.  And while the pair were no longer making hits, Cher had several of her solo hits featured on the shows.

Recently a nostalgia network new to us in Florida, GetTV, has acquired the programs and have been running them.  I haven't seen any of them since they aired, and it was quite a surprise.  Less dated and more risqué than I imagined, I can only guess that puberty had not kicked in yet regarding Cher's scandalous outfits by Bob Mackie. 

The wardrobe, glam rock style aside, notwithstanding, wasn't the only thing that was edgy.  The humor is something that like Cher's dresses (or lack thereof, how did she get away with them?) was also a bit risqué.  I'm really not sure a lot of this would have gotten through censors today.  Not just dated jokes, but a lot racial humor and sexual innuendo, so in that way, these shows are an intriguing time capsule. 

Catch them if you can for a bit of nostalgia, a bit of social evolution, and a laugh or two.  And for those who did not live through the 1970s, don't laugh at us too hard. 

1 comment:

  1. Ugh, I saw some of their sketches not to long ago on You Tube. The corniness was so painful! It was funny to remember that this format was all the rage once upon a time.