TV Families

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How has the idea of "Family" changed on Television since World War II?

In the early years of the Cold War, the nuclear family was promoted as providing an important sense of security. From "Leave it to Beaver," to "All in the Family," to "Dallas," to "Full House," to "Modern Family," the idea of family and what family means has almost been a direct reflection of their times. From no conflict, to constant conflict, to occasional conflict, the portrayal of "family" on television appears to both reflect and attempt to influence American ideas on the subject.

  • Excellent topic and so many variables here to establish such as cultural and gender roles and how they have transitioned. Additionally, the author can determine if the changes are inclusive to mirror more of American society and less of the mainstream demographics. – Venus Echos 9 years ago
  • It's important here to include families of color. All of the families OP mentioned are white --- with the exception of Modern Family's Lily, Gloria, Manny, and Joe. Consider Family Matters, A Different World, The Cosby Show, and Blackish. – Kristian Wilson 9 years ago
  • I had considered the exact same topic from a strictly African-American perspective, going from "Good Times," to "The Cosby Show" (though hard to dance around the unfortunate taboo of the name there, maybe swap it for "Family Matters"), to "Fresh Prince of Bel Air," to "Black-ish." (but then I got selfish and decided to tuck that one away for myself). – TheHall 9 years ago
  • As mentioned, this is a great topic, but I also think it's important to study "atypical" familial situations, and ask what is a "family" per se. In one episode of the The Golden Girls, Rose must endure triple bypass surgery and the other "girls" are not allowed to see her at first in the hospital because they are not related to her. Dorothy raises the question "what is a family?" It could also be interesting to take an approach studying how these television characters become "families" to us, the viewers. I come from a loving, "typical" nuclear family, but also lived alone for much of my adult life. The Golden Girls has always been my security blanket, and got me through many rough, lonely times. The Facts of Life is another popular sitcom that altered a typical nuclear family with four girls who were not related, from very different backgrounds, but, like The Golden Girls, they formed a familial bond just the same. Both of these shows, along with The Cosby Show, helped carry NBC in the 1980's, and all three featured "different" kinds of families than what America was used to seeing with the shows you mentioned above. I still think it's a great idea, and many "routes" could be taken with this topic. :) – douglasallers 9 years ago
  • Just to reiterate, this is a fascinating topic that will yield important insight as you flesh out your thesis. It's important, though, to keep in mind what the first comment mentions as far as how sitcoms are molded to suit a certain demographic of viewers. It could be interesting to do a comparison between the white American family and the black American family showing how they have developed over time. "The Cosby Show," as unfortunate a path as it has taken, was once groundbreaking for its depiction of a black family with a doctor and lawyer as parents. What problems are children in each family forced to encounter? How does that put the show in conversation with demographics of the time period? There are endless possibilities and points for discussion, so it's important to narrow them down. Choose the shows you wish to discuss, weighing pros and cons, and go from there. – LeahR 8 years ago
  • Great topic. While we know that the concept of family and what stands for has changed since the 1950s, it will be interesting to see what ideologies still remain the same and how the stakeholders' approach to influence the audience has changed over the years. – Arazoo Ferozan 8 years ago