Professor of family communication Rich West, who teaches a class about Norman Lear here at Emerson, described Lear’s influence on society as Lear turned 100 years old on Wednesday, July 27.
You think of rape and you think of mental health and you think of inflation, you think of alcoholism, you think of domestic violence and poverty. And guess what? All of those are resonating today in 2022. That’s why I believe he’s an icon. It’s not because of what he wrote, but because his themes are sustained today. And we have conversations today about the same things that he was writing about in the 1970s.
[His shows] made you feel uncomfortable. They made you feel confused. They made you feel happy and sad. But they always prompted some reflection long past the credits of the show, if you were willing to go there. And I think that’s where the critical part of his influence is.