‘Don't make me laugh’: Age representations in a humorous context

Jake Harwood, Howard Giles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


The Golden Girls is a highly popular television series which, since its inception in 1985, has received praise for presenting the elderly on television in a positive light. Research, however, has not investigated the messages of the show in any depth and the current study aims to remedy this. A discursive analysis of the show is conducted to identify ways in which the show marks age and achieves humorous effect. The multiple ways in which these effects are achieved are schematized in typology form. Indications that age marking and humor overlap considerably are interpreted in terms of propagating views of aging inconsistent with the show's public agenda'. Specifically, the link, which has theoretical implications, is seen as perpetuating stereotypes of the elderly, by making counter-stereotypical portrayals, quite literally, laughable. The results are discussed in terms of various theoretical positions, as well as more applied production issues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-436
Number of pages34
JournalDiscourse & Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1992


  • age
  • discourse analysis
  • humor
  • intergenerational contact
  • media
  • television

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


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