Thanks to the glowing reviews I read about on CW, I decided to watch Fawlty Towers. I'm only through five episodes and I don't think I've laughed harder watching another sitcom save Arrested Development. What a genius show!
However, one thing that is really interesting to me is to observe the British attitude of the time towards sexuality - both hetro and homo. Watching the five episodes I've seen so far, it is striking to me how a '70's era public TV show can be so refreshingly open in its attitude towards hetro-sexuality. Take "The Wedding Party" for example. The episode centers around Basil's prudish attitude towards the young unmarried couple who are all over each other as they try to rent a room. He almost turns them away until his wife intervenes. Then there was that heavenly sight of Polly walking around in a tight shirt without a bra and two..ahem...peaks clearly poking out. So much so that Basil orders her to change her shirt. The innuendo about *** surprised me, as I don't think an American TV show from the '70's could get away with that. But there was also a contradiction. In the same episode about a couple trying to get it on and a girl walking around bra-less, Basil and his wife are shown sleeping in separate beds. Why is that? Was that due to some censor policy? If so, it seems rather silly considering everything else that they allowed to go through.
Also, it struck me that homosexuality was not as openly accepted on the show. There were snide jokes about it. Again consider "The Wedding Party". Part of the sub-plot is the guest's mistaken impression that Basil is having an affair with Manuel. One of the characters calls the behavior "disgusting". In a later episode, Basil makes a clearly demeaning joke about a gay character being from Greece because "that's where it originated you know". Now I would accept and even understand if the same type of jokes played on American sitcoms of the time, but I thought the British attitude was more liberal even back then? Am I reading too much into the jokes and perhaps no one else gets the negative vibes towards homosexuality from the show?
I would be interested to read your thoughts on the matter.