Ideology, naturalization, social norm, nuclear family, model, dysfunctional family, Simpsons, Mad Men, Modern Family, TV shows, animation, baby boomers, Kutulas, Tueth, realism, generation, governmentality
"Family is the one experience to which virtually all viewers can relate" Kutulas states (2005, p. 49). For this reason, family is omnipresent in the current televisual landscape. But this is not any family. For many decades, television has broadcasted a certain type of family: the nuclear family, which is defined as a family group consisting of a father and mother and their children, who share living quarters (with contrast to an extended family). Thus, the nuclear family has formed the ideological framework of television. However, today's society is characterized by the rise of divorce and subsequent blended families. Social changes have fostered an evolution in the representation of family in television. Disorganised families where the structures of authorities and the usually clearly defined roles are contested. But despite these new challenging views, the hegemonic ideology of the nuclear family is still very important and present in TV. So why is the dominant model of the nuclear family challenged in today's TV and how is the critic of this model performed? What kinds of shows intervene in this process?
[...] (1992). Honey, I'm Home. New York: St. Martin's Press. Kutulas, J. (2005). Who rules the roost? Sitcom family dynamics from the Cleavers to the Osbournes. In M.M. Dalton & L.R. Linder (Eds.), The sitcom reader : America viewed and skewed (pp. 49-59). [...]
[...] Consequently, this generation did not have the same expectations as their parents. They rejected parental authority, rebelled against social rules. They did not want to follow the way of life of their parents and especially the usual important stages in life: they defied the institution of marriage and postponed having children if ever considered. They did not want to look like their parents and longed for a different kind of life. At the time television represented exactly what they did not want to be, the ideal of their parents. [...]
[...] The parents themselves are not really bothered with this as if it was the normal course of life. In side interviews, Phil calls himself a "cool dad" while Claire says that if she can prevent her children from making the same mistakes she did when she was growing up, she has "done our job". Here the new focus of parents is apparent: they care for their children personal development, they want them to be happy and they want to spare them as many difficulties and hard times as possible. [...]
[...] He ignores Bart's assertions that all families are like them in reality and that the ones he is showing are “obviously freaks”. Homer finally decides to go to a family therapist to “cure” the Simpsons because as he says: “ this family needs help.” At the therapy centre, while attempting to sort their problems out, they cannot stop fighting physically. They end up driving the therapist crazy, double their money back according to the center's policies and have the giggles. [...]
[...] Betty Draper, the housewife, former model, is bored and nearly depressed. She seems tired of raising the children. She needs attention from her husband that she feels she does not get. Don Draper is a very absent father, often away from his family. This image is in conformity with the baby boomers' vision of the father: he is not central to family life. Always at work (Don leaves early and comes home late), sometimes has to stay at the office on weekends or in the nights. [...]
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