TV families to be thankful for

By on November 11, 2009

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, one of the many things to be thankful for is family. It is no secret that the idea of the traditional “American family” has changed significantly over the decades. Once society accepted the fact that families varied in size, culture, dynamics and religion, the media came to that same realization. In order to progress with society and new generations, television families have changed drastically over the years.

“Leave It to Beaver” was a weekly black and white sitcom which premiered on CBS in 1957. The show featured young Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver and his immature antics at school and at home in suburban life.

The show featured a highly idealized image of the American family. Beaver’s parents, June and Ward Cleaver, supported the distinct gender roles of the 1950s. June was a stay-at-home mother who spent her time cooking, cleaning, and taking care of her family. Ward was a hard working father figure who constantly taught Beaver important life lessons.

Although the show’s plot was centered on a suburban family, Beaver was the main character who constantly learned from his mistakes with the help of his parents.

“The Brady Bunch” was a sitcom that premiered in 1969 and was set in Los Angeles. This show revolved around a large, blended family. Carol and Mike Brady were widowers who fell in love and got married.

The catch, however, was that both Carol and Mike each had three children from their previous marriages. Carol had three daughters while Mike had three sons. The two families then moved into a house together, along with their housekeeper, Alice.

“The Brady Bunch” focused on six adolescent children and the troubles of growing up. Both Carol and Mike played the role of caring parents who offer their love, support and wisdom.

Former TGIF staple “Family Matters” featured a black family from Chicago.

“Family Matters” first premiered in 1989. Carl and Harriett Winslow had three children, Eddie, Laura, and Judy. The show also featured their nerdy next door neighbor, Steve Urkel. In addition to preaching morals and values, “Family Matters” also dealt with issues such as racial prejudice and discrimination.

“Everybody Loves Raymond” was an Emmy Award-winning sitcom, which ran from 1996 to 2005.

Comedian Ray Romano turned his real life experiences into sitcom gold with the portrayal of the Barone family. The Barone’s were a big, Italian family consisting of Raymond, his non-Italian wife Debra, and their three young children. Raymond’s nosy parents Marie and Frank, and his brother Robert, who lived across the street, became the show’s major source of comedy.

Unlike other television families, instead of preaching morals and values, the Barone’s exuded bluntness and guilt. Nonetheless, the Barone family offered views of the complex workings of an Italian-American family.

ABC’s current hit sitcom “Modern Family” has epitomized the meaning of a blended family in the 21st century.

The comedy showcases a traditional family with parents Claire and Phil and their three children, including teenager Haley and pre-teens Alex and Luke. Claire’s brother Mitchell is in a relationship with his partner Cameron and the two have adopted a baby girl Lily from Vietnam. Claire and Mitchell’s father, Jay, is married to a younger woman, Gloria, who has a son, Manny, from a previous marriage. The family is “modern” through its depiction of same-sex and interracial relationships all in one extended family. This is not the typical ABC family sitcom from the ’90s.

Although these television families have numerous differences, one factor they all share is the love and support they provide for one another. Although the institution of the family is a forever changing entity, its purpose will forever remain the same. Be thankful for family this Thanksgiving holiday!

Contributions made by Matt Busekroos

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About Nicole Fano

Arts & Life Editor
Email: artslife@quchronicle.com
Twitter: @nmfano
Year: 2012
Major: Print journalism
Hometown: Monville, N.J.
Dream Job: Writer for an entertainment/women's magazine