Americans At Home


There was a time when the `ideal family concept’ reigned superior amongst other family views. For much of the 1950s, Americans held a very high standard in the keeping and upbringing of a family. This can be recognized as how families were portrayed on television. I ask you to look at how much the `ideal family’ view has changed from the past to our present time. Back in the 50s, we all had our classic sitcoms such as Father Knows Best, Leave it to Beaver and I Love Lucy, now, in today’s society, we have shows such as Two and a Half Men, Family Guy, George Lopez, and Everybody Loves Raymond. If a show such as Everybody loves Raymond for example, were to be aired in the 1950s, this would have been offending to many, and worrying to most. In the 1950s television was almost a guide in this scenario, not so much for entertainment as most would think of it.

In Two and a Half Men, the situation where a brother divorces his wife and moves in with his wealthy brother and brings his son is considered unheard of in the 50s. Men were superior and women were to tend to the husbands needs then the family’s and for the women to absent in the family picture was ever worse. For one, divorce was shameful and not an option, and to raise a family consisting of two men and one child was in a sense weird and would be looked down on. But it happens in our society now in our time era. So are these sitcom differences a change for better ratings and comic entertainment, or a great example and proof of how much we Americans as a society are changing views, of the modern `ideal American family’.

In the shows we all know and love from the 50s, the husband comes home comes from a hard days work and the wife quickly tends to his side. She offers him a beverage and asks him about his day and allows his daily problems spill on her as she remains silent and at attention with NO intention to throw in her two cents of how her day went. Now visualize the wife, In today’s sitcoms and even in real life do you think that’s how the role of events plays out?

Lets break down a common sitcom such as Everybody Loves Raymond, when he comes home for work, his wife approaches him and asks him about his day and when he finishes unloading all of his daily problems and stories on her, her response usually begins with `DO YOU KNOW WHAT I HAD TO DO TODAY!.’ As funny as that sounds for the comedy portion of Raymond’s show, think about it, that’s how much we as a society have began to depict the idea of a `normal family’. That scenario really plays out I know that when my mother had a hard day my dad would listen to her problems and visa versa. If this was the 1950s my mom would have to suck it up and play wife and tend to my fathers needs.

So what happened? Are we as a human race just adapting and becoming completely tolerant of the smallest things. Is this change for better or worse?

In today’s society, minorities are treated a lot better than they were in the earlier decades of the 40s and 50s. Women can now work and come home in time to cook a meal for the family, and argue with her husband about topics that might be offended by. A black man can now walk into a restaurant and receive service, or can drink water from any water fountain he wishes. The cities are not sub-divided into areas where other certain minorities were not allowed. Yes racism and discrimination still exists and it will always most likely be here with us, but it is not nearly as bad. Society is becoming more tolerant and more easy going than it was in the 50s, but these television shows depicting these `ideal families’ really sent me the message that the 1950s were the time to live and be a part of. Now that I’ve grown up and matured enough to understand more ideas, I noticed that in all these sitcoms from the 50s, everyone’s white. And now in today’s TV shows, you got all kinds of minorities involved.

My English professor once quoted from a book that stated, `The social stability of the 1950s, then, was a response to the stick of racism, sexism, and repression’. Now you tell me, what’s today’s social stability? It hasn’t completely changed to favor the minorities, but in today’s TV shows, they’re not trying to pretend the world is a completely perfect place anymore.



Americans At Home