What do “Modern Family,” “Saved by the Bell,” and “I’ll Fly Away” all have in common?
These three uniquely different TV series all have featured at least one episode involving amateur wrestling.
That’s where the similarity ends, as sitcoms and dramas that include wrestling as a storyline vary tremendously in terms of the portrayal of the oldest and greatest sport.
That’s just one of the conclusions of a feature titled “Wrestling: As Seen on TV” posted at the amateur wrestling website InterMat Tuesday.
Written by InterMat senior writer Mark Palmer, the article cites specific sitcoms and dramas where amateur wrestling was depicted in at least one episode of the series. The shows cited are as recent as the Feb. 26 episode of the hit ABC-TV series “Modern Family” (where Phil and Claire Dunphy’s only son Luke wrestles the son of his dad’s rival in real estate)… and as old-school as “The Wonder Years” and “Saved by the Bell,” two popular series from 20-25 years ago.
“Saved by the Bell” was notable because it featured actor Mario Lopez, a real-life California high school wrestler who placed seventh at the 1991 California state tournament, playing TV show high school wrestler A.J. Slater. There was no real attempt at using Lopez’ actual mat talent in the episodes with a wrestling storyline. The sport was played strictly for laughs, with on-the-mat moves that were more WWE than NCAA.
This is not to say that all TV entertainment shows with wrestling storylines provide wacky depictions of the sport. “Wrestling: As Seen on TV” describes at least two series that served up more realistic portraits of wrestling… not just in terms of the on-the-mat action, but in providing viewers with a sense of the strong points of the sport and its benefits to participants.
InterMat’s “Wrestling: As Seen on TV” will bring back memories for readers who watched some classic shows of the 1990s… spur you to remember favorite series that showed wrestling over the years... and provide some food for thought as for the reasons why wrestling has been portrayed as it has over the decades in sitcoms and dramas.
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