The Monkees was a different type of television series than those preceding it upon its debut on NBC in 1966. It featured four young men living together in a beach house trying to make it as musicians. However, The Monkees was also the first series on television to lack a traditional character that had always been a part of every TV family prior to the show’s debut.
‘The Monkees’ hit a series of milestones during their two-year television run
Monkees producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider were purposeful upon casting Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork, and Micky Dolenz as the lead actors of the fledgling NBC series.
Their 1965 ad in the trade publications Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter sought “folk & roll musicians/singers for acting roles in new TV series.”
Therefore they were looking for a specific type of young actor to fulfill the show’s intent: a series where four young men living together sought work as a band. This series came on the heels of the success of both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones in America. Therefore, there was a specific type of viewer The Monkees producers were trying to interest.
Subsequently, The Monkees would break all kinds of barriers on television. The actors were the first to say the word the censored word “hell” on television [the network bleeped it out during post-production] and also the first to feature four young “hippie” men as its stars.
However, The Monkees made television history by breaking down another wall.
‘The Monkees’ was the first series to lack this traditional television character
The television series hit several significant milestones during its two short years on NBC. However, there was another more significant reason the show was different than other sitcoms of the late 1960s.
“It wasn’t Father Knows Best,” Schneider once said of the series, as reported by Letty Rydell.
He continued, “It was the kids know best. The heroes were young people, and the heavies were older people. For the first time in TV history, no parental or authoritative figures were telling the youngsters what to do.”
The Monkees series was very different. Not only was it one of the first family sitcoms lacking a father figure, but the characters used their real names, as well as what appeared to be as close to their real personalities as permissible on television.
The lines subsequently blurred between ‘The Monkees’ public and personal personas
As their television characters and real-life personalities appeared to intertwine, the lines blurred between The Monkees television show and their images.
“It got very hazy,” Dolenz once said to The Washington Post.
“If you define a rock group as a bunch of guys who record the songs, rehearse them, and play them in front of an audience, we became a rock group. From my point of view, The Monkees was simply a television show about a rock ‘n’ roll group, like Star Trek was a television show about a starship commander,” Dolenz shared.
“Eventually, we became the rock ‘n’ roll group, like Clayton Moore, eventually became the Lone Ranger,” Dolenz attested.
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