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SOC 200 Family in TV Land Analysis Essay

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SOC 200
Family in TV Land Analysis
Throughout the years, the portrayal of the average “family” has changed and evolved in
households, and on television. Television is moving away from what would be considered the
ideal family to what is more entertaining to its viewers. These shows have always been a fair
depiction of the social trends at the time of the show. Older television shows include a stay at
home mother, working father, and usually two to three children. Now, shows have working
mothers, same-sex couples, adopted children, and drama. When analyzing the evolution of the
family in television it is important to look at gender roles, authority figures, family structure, and
content of the show. There are distinguished differences between “Father Knows Best” (1950s),
“The Cosby Show” (1980s), and “Modern Family” (2000s).
In “Father Knows Best” season one episode one there is a portrayal of the idealistic
American family. Throughout this show there are a few gender roles seen. The mother stays at
home, cooking and cleaning, alike the typical mother in the 50s’. Also, the women are expected
to know how to dance, while those same standards are not held over the male characters. Another
factor is the authority throughout the show. The children are polite and respectful when speaking
to their parents and do not ask for anything. It is also evident that the relationship between the
parents and the children seems to be strong. The family structure is seemingly average, it is a
two-parent household with three children, a boy and two girls. Regarding the overall content of
the show, the beginning shows the family gathered in the living room, all while being interrupted
by thumping noises upstairs. The family finds out that Bud is nervous about asking a girl to the

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dance and is teaching himself to dance. The father decides to visit the girl that Bud has asked to
the dance to find out that she is also nervous, and much alike Bud. In the end, Bud and his date
both dance around beautifully at the school dance while his proud parents dance near him. Close
family connectedness seems to be important to this family.
In “The Cosby Show” season one episode eight, the audience starts to see slight changes
in the American family. Gender roles are still seen, the father is still the one bringing home the
money. With his money, he gives it to his daughter more easily than his son, because his son is
told to “get a job”. The women in the show are still shown as the nurturing ones. The mother
cooks and cleans and the daughter, Denise, is shown sewing a shirt for her brother Theodore.
Another observation is that the children are more openly willing to ask their parents for things in
this show. When the father denies letting his son buy an expensive shirt, his son tries to reason
with him in what looks like a slight argument. The family structure in “The Cosby Show” is still
much similar to the family structure in “Father Knows Best”. It is a two-parent household with
three children, two girls and a boy. The shows content includes Theodore, the son, buying a
designer shirt with his dads’ money for a date but then later being asked to return it. The father
gives his son money and he used it to pay his sister to make him the same shirt. His sister failed
to make the shirt the exact same and Theodore was horrified until his date said that she did not
mind. A major theme throughout this show is money.
Finally, in “Modern Family” season ten episode seventeen big changes occur in
televisions portrayal of the family. Gender roles have changed in this movie when women are
seen working and men are seen being stay-at-home parents. Another major difference is the
children’s obedience to authority figures. The children are seen speaking to their parents as if
they are of the same authority. Some of the characters are even seen making rude remarks to

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SOC 200 Family in TV Land Analysis Throughout the years, the portrayal of the average “family” has changed and evolved in households, and on television. Television is moving away from what would be considered the ideal family to what is more entertaining to its viewers. These shows have always been a fair depiction of the social trends at the time of the show. Older television shows include a stay at home mother, working father, and usually two to three children. Now, shows have working mothers, same-sex couples, adopted children, and drama. When analyzing the evolution of the family in television it is important to look at gender roles, authority figures, family structure, and content of the show. There are distinguished differences between “Father Knows Best” (1950s), “The Cosby Show” (1980s), and “Modern Family” (2000s). In “Father Knows Best” season one episode one there is a portrayal of the idealistic American family. Throughout this show there are a few gender roles seen. The mother stays at home, cooking and cleaning, alike the typical mother in the 50s’. Also, the women are expected to know how to dance, while those same standards are not held over t ...
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