Influence of TV Shows on Society

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Television is a cultural reference point for most of us, a type of shorthand that makes it easy to carry on a conversation. Columnist Ellen Goodman wrote that to those born since the baby boom of the late ‘40s, “All history begins with television.” We compare ourselves to those on TV; we change how we dress and cut our hair and talk based on the latest television trend. Viewers pick up catch phrases and turn them into side-splitting party parodies that in turn become part of our culture.

For decades, almost ever since the inception of the television, the two have seemed to influence each other. In the '60s, Jacqueline Kennedy was seen as a fashion icon after bringing style to the White House. News reports focused almost as much on her wardrobe as on her husband's dealings as president of the country. Diane Keaton brought thrift store couture to a whole new level with her now-famous "Annie Hall" look of menswear with a twist of femininity and Madonna changed the way the world viewed undergarments worn as clothing with her videos on MTV in the '80s.

Today's small-screen fashion icons range from the geek chic of the "Ugly Betty" characters to the vampire- and dark-influenced "True Blood" to the retro teachers and students on the ever-popular "Glee" to the chic girls on "Gossip Girl." "TV and fashion are inseparable," said MeeAe Oh-Ranck, a fashion designer and professor at Philadelphia University and Pennsylvania College of Art & Design in Lancaster city. "Some of the shows have had such a huge impact on sharing fashion with the world."

Shows like "Sex and the City," "Ugly Betty" and "Glee" are at the top of Oh-Ranck's fashion-influencing list. They illustrate how fashion and television help each other by making looks popular that may have been questioned in the past, she said. "Geek chic has become an acceptable form of fashion because of shows like 'Ugly Betty,' " said Oh-Ranck said.

"It shows that being a geek is acceptable," Oh-Ranck said. "It shows that there is fashion everywhere, and it's up to each person to create her own style." The breakdown for the geek chic look is heavy glasses, braces, slim pants and mismatching colors and prints.

(pic: famous tv sitcom – Ugly Betty)

Another popular look stolen from the small screen is the "Gossip Girl" glam of a layered casual look with funky accessories and cocktail dresses. Park City Center store Charlotte Russe carries the Eric Daman for Charlotte Russe collection, which is actually designed by "Gossip Girl" stylist Eric Daman. The line features party dresses, shoes and accessories, according to a CW Network press release. The line was launched Oct. 24 and everything in it is priced under $50.

According to David Hacker, vice president of trend and color for Kohl's, "popular television shows like 'Gossip Girl' typically feature the most up-to-date looks and accessories which help viewers translate fashion forward, runway ensembles into hip, everyday looks." For teens and 20-somethings, the jury is out on whether some of the TV characters' fashions are acceptable or not. Recently, "Glee" and "Gossip Girl" stylists came under fire for the not-so-modest dresses and attire worn by many of the characters on the shows. Some of MTV's shows have escaped the critical radar, even though the fashions are very similar and show just as much skin. "Feminine details, lace and embellishment rule the screen this holiday season," Hacker said. "Take cues from Addison on 'Private Practice' or Rachel on 'Glee' and layer your lace and ruffle-trimmed top under a LC Lauren Conrad motorcycle jacket or cardigan to create a lingerie-inspired look." However, the main fashion characters on "Glee" — Rachel and teacher Emma — are found on the conservative side of the spectrum with their classic, almost retro look. Rachel sports a prep-school inspired look during school scenes with girlie skirts, ruffles and fun, quirky accessories. Emma, the doe-eyed, red-head teacher, wears...
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