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Tv Families And Real Families Essay

3287 words - 13 pages

As early as 1950, television families have depicted not only the way we live today, but also the way we ought to live (Tueth, 2003). Hence, television has continued to present comedies about family life that ranges from the didactic model of domestic conventionalist and gradually to non-conventionalist ways of life. By conventionalist, I mean the depiction of the “nuclear” family that consists of clear roles, responsibilities, and gentle lines of authority that flow from the wise dad and understanding mom to the obedient children (Kutalas, 2005). Examples of these types of shows between 1947 to 1990 that constructed more than 60% of family sitcoms included: The Cleavers, The Cosby Show, Father Knows Best, Family Ties, and Growing Pains (Morgan & Signorielli, 1990). The original nuclear families portrayed in shows such as Father Knows Best, were also defined as having a father who was the breadwinner, the rule maker, and the mediator of disputes, a mother who was sociable, witty, and good natured, and an average of 2.2 children that mostly consisted of boys that were obedient, and when confused, they would find out that father did know best, even about their personal childhood problems. These conventional sitcoms worked as a formula that changed the expectations of viewers who would find these families not only amusing, but instructional and taught moral lessons each episode (Tueth, 2003). And by non-conventionalist ways of life, I mean families which were “non-nuclear”, such as single parent families and gay families. These types of families made up 40% of the family sitcoms and included shows such as: Who’s The Boss, Kate and Allie, and Modern Family (Morgan & Signorielli, 1990).

Making up more than 80% of the dramatic programs on television, the home and the family are the most common themes with many titles reflecting upon this focus: Home Improvement, Modern Family, Family Matters, and Full House (Morgan & Signorielli, 1990). The reason for this is because family is an experience that virtually all viewers can reflect on and get ideas about family life. The definition of a family was depicted as a social unit characterized by one or more of the following elements: dependent children that had an adult who was the head of the household, dependent children with married couples, adult children with married couples, and dependent children with adults that shared their housing with others. Furthermore, this definition of family had not been limited to a legal marital arrangement, nor was the dependent children status limited to natural or adopted circumstances. Thus, adults who performed parental duties as the head of a household were coded as a representation of family, regardless of their legal status (Robinson & Skill, 1994).

A brief view of the 4 decades within the periods of 1950 to 1990 would show us a significant shift from the conventional nuclear family to the non-conventional modern family. Starting from the 1950s, the...

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