In anticipation of the release of Lisa Cholodenko’s comedy The Kids Are All Right, FilmInFocus’ Peter Bowen and Nick Dawson look at works across multiple mediums that also poke fun at the institution of marriage.
Slide 3: Blondie (1930)
The comic strip Blondie, one of the longest-running comedies of marriage around, didn’t start off as a family story. The original character, Blondie Boopadoop, was devil-may-care flapper, and Dagwood Bumstead, the heir to the J. Bolling Bumstead Locomotive Works fortune, was a rollicking would-be playboy. Started in 1930, the strip, created by Chic Young, initially reflected the riotous nature of the 20s. But as the country descended into financial depression, the strip sobered up and quickly married its two characters in 1933. From then on, Blondie was about family, or more specifically about a smart housewife who manages to keep everything together despite the actions of her klutzy husband. Although Dagwood often finds himself at odds his irrational boss Julius Caesar Dithers, most of the real laughs were at home. Young went so far as to identify four basic tenets of humor in his strip: “Eating, sleeping, making money, and managing family and household.” The series popularity led to a series of 28 films (from 1938 to 1950) and two separate television series. Chic Young’s son Dean took over the strip when his father died in 1973, updating the clothes, furnishings and circumstances but keeping the family and its disorienting dynamics the same.