Television is not just a form of entertainment, but it is an excellent form of study of society's view concerning its families. This study focuses on the history of television beginning in the early 1950s and will run through present day. It examines the use of racial, ethnic and sexual stereotypes to characterize the players of these shows. The examples assist in tracing what has happened to the depiction of the American family on prime time television. It reveals the change of the standards employed by network television as disclosed to the American public. Finally, I will propose the question of which is the influential entity, television or the viewing audience. .
The Goldbergs, which was originally a radio show, became the first popular family series. It became a weekly TV series in 1949, revealing to Americans a working class Jewish family who resided in a small apartment in the Bronx. The show, while warm and humorous, confronted delicate social issues, such as sensitivity due to the Second World War. It is an excellent example of an ethnic family's status in society. .
A classic among classics, I Love Lucy appeared on television on October 15, 1951, (http://www.nick-at-nite.com/tvretro/shows/ilovelucy/index.tin). The series" premise focused on the antics of a nonsensical wife who beguiles her easily angered husband. The series created the men-versus-women standard on television, (such as what we see between Dan and Roseanne on Roseanne today), that still predominates today. One circumstance that led TV executives to seriously challenge the show's impending success was the use of Lucille Ball's real-life Cuban husband, Desi Arnaz. The "mixed-marriage" status was a questionable concept that worried the administrators. The situation prevailed; its episodes routinely attracted over two-thirds of the television audience. .
Leave it to Beaver, the definitive 1950's household comedy, focused on life through the eyes of an adolescent boy, Beaver.