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The Graduate: The Father of the Modern Comedy of Awkwardness

Today's comedy landscape is prominently defined by the line of cringe-inducing moments and awkward conversations, from the character of Michael Scott on The Office to the persona of Zach Galifianakis (especially in "Between Two Ferns") to Michael Cera's bumbling adolescent characters. It's a type of comedy that defines every faux documentary from This Is Spinal Tap to Modern Family, and it's present in the painful real-life comedy of Louie and Judd Apatow's films. NBC's Thursday night line-up is built around single-camera entities with recent roots dating back to the groundbreaking "The Larry Sanders Show" on HBO. But further back than that, it's a type of comedy that first grabbed the public's attention in Mike Nichols' epoch-making 1967 film, The Graduate.

The Graduate has become such an over-used cultural reference point in TV and films that it's possible to know it only through iconic sequences (the moving sidewalk at the airport, the interrupted wedding) and quoted lines ("Plastics." "Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me.") without ever having actually enjoyed its for the genuinely funny, ground-breaking comedy it is. Its progeny includes all the modern comedies of awkwardness, and its influence can be seen in every faux-documentary, every story of modern manhood, and every improv-filled work we enjoy today. READ MORE