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When I was a teenager, one of my favourite television shows was Happy Days. This homage to the 1950’s was funny and cheesy and it produced a lot of iconic characters like “The Fonz” and “Potsie” and made famous the often-said expression – “Sit on it!”
“Jumping the shark” is an idiom, which originated from Happy Days. During one of its episodes, the Fonz actually water-skied on a ramp and jumped over a shark. This marked the climax or high point of the series. Now this phrase is used freely by the television industry to describe a show that has reached its peak and become desperate for a ratings boost.
The Fonz was at first forbidden to wear his leather jacket. The producers thought that it represented too much gang association for a squeaky clean family show. But the jacket became an integral part of the character’s persona and a sign of things to come. The 1950’s were “jumping the shark” because that decade marked the peak of conservatism and old style family values. The next 2 decades led the way to freer, more turbulent times of the sexual revolution, more revealing fashions and bohemian lifestyles.
Do we miss the sock hops, drive-in burger joints and poodle skirts? I think that a part of us will always long for that seemingly simpler way of life. And if we forget, we can always Leave it to Beaver to remind us of those times.