American Family Structure in Comedy Sitcoms from Then to Now: Essay

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Picture a woman, exquisitely dressed while cleaning her home yet looking as stunning as ever as if she never lifted a finger. Not only does this woman clean but makes sure that her children and husband are happy. Women in the fifties had household roles that consisted of homemaking. Every woman’s ideal American family consisted of a marriage that included a husband capable of providing and children of their own. Women of the fifties strictly observed and complied with society’s expectations. Now picture a different scene with three suburban families. These families hold a family portrait while they pose for a family photo in their front yards. Everything seems reasonably fine until the differences and similarities between the traditional and modern-day family structures are analyzed. First off, there is a family of five - a husband, wife, and their three children - a traditional family unit. Next, the second family consists of same-sex partnerships and their adopted child. To sum up the last family, there’s a marriage between an older man and his trophy wife and their step-child. Families of the modern day show diversity in gender roles, where women can be breadwinners and mothers. And fathers can be less responsible and more involved in their children's shenanigans. And relationships don’t all consist of heterosexual relationships but can be same-sex. And families can consist of interracial relationships and can create blended families. And relationships don’t care much about age just as long as both are over 18 years of age. Adoption is popular for gender composition families. Moreover, television entertainment has helped send a message of what an ideal American family should look like, particularly through sitcoms. So, the question arises, what was and is now the ideal American family depicted in sitcoms? It is the answer to this question that this work is dedicated to.

The popular TV comedy sitcom ‘I Love Lucy’ represented the social norms of the fifties. Lucy Ricardo, a 1950s housewife who played a submissive woman who needed her husband to save her distressed moment of careless, account-managing habits in the episode titled ‘The Quiz Show’. Lucy Ricardo is a distraught woman not have enough money to pay bills and shares with her friend her system for paying bills. This woman threw all her bills up in the air, and those that landed face up were the ones that got paid, and those face down didn’t. There is a scene where Lucy loses her opportunity to be responsible for the household accounts, and as a consequence, Ricky Ricardo, her husband, allotted Lucy a lower allowance amount to teach her a lesson. Lucy was disappointed and saddened by this, so her friend invited her to go see a radio show called ‘Females Are Fabulous’. In this show, they advertised that there were prizes that could be won by participation and the first prize was $1000! Eager to make up for her mistakes, Lucy decides to participate and try to win the $1000 prize. Little did Lucy know that the show required her to make a fool out of herself to participate!

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Even though sitcoms from the fifties shared what families were like in the fifties, it made humor out of it! Humor that makes fun of the character’s personalities and their daily lives. That’s why ‘I Love Lucy’ is a beloved show to this day! In ‘I Love Lucy’, Ricky Ricardo plays Lucy’s Husband and plays a man who is in charge! Ricky’s demeanor poses a man who is well-educated and responsible for providing for his family. Ricky’s relationship with Lucy seems a bit infantilized, sharing the superiority theory of humor. The superiority theory of humor involves humor in the feeling of being superior to someone. This show also shares how households in the fifties were patriarchies led by their husbands. Lucy is a pretty lady and wife who portrays how little she knew about things that required academics. Lucy’s character shares a perfect example of an ideal housewife of the fifties. In the last five minutes of the show, Lucy wins the $1000 and Ricky collects the money and leaves Lucy with some change. The show depicts humor, in reality, a reality that portrays a mere image of what things look like in that period.

‘Modern Family’ is a show that shares the ideal American family of the modern day, where diversity and differences are accepted. Modern comedies present the same theories of humor in a way that shares moments of our time. And in the show ‘Modern Family’, there is diversity in each character and personality. There is a mixture of blended families, same-sex orientations, and gender roles that have swapped through time. This diversity of race, gender orientation, and personality gives a perfect mixture of comedy.

In the show ‘Modern Family’, in the episode titled ‘Mother!’, Cameron and Mitchell, a same-sex couple, get an unexpected visit from Mitchell’s mother, DeDe, where they begin to realize what effect she has on their lives. Cam and Mitch figure out that Mitchell’s mother has been manipulating their decisions for over 15 years. Claire, Mitchell’s sister, mother of three adolescent teens, and wife to Phil Dunphy, her husband who has the maturity of a teenage boy, plays a successful woman who runs her father’s business. Phil and his son are in the garage flying a drone that accidentally hits a portrait of Claire that was for work. As a solution to fix the portrait, they cut out Morgan Freeman’s front teeth from a magazine and paste it onto the portrait. Phil attempts to fix it more by blow drying the glue from behind the portrait, and as a result, ends up melting more of the portrait. In this scene, Phil Dunphy shares with his son that there is a window where Claire is most relaxed and lets problems slide because of her state of mind. This scene shares the superiority theory of humor when Phil’s son plays a boy who doesn’t know much about ‘the open window’ that Claire has annually, right after her spa day. Phil Dunphy and his children decide to share their lousy personal news during the open window where she is most relaxed.

This show best illustrates the social norms of today which represent the modern-day American family. ‘Modern Family’ shares controversial diversity in a way where humor is unservile to controversial issues. In the show, viewers can see the dysfunctionalities and differences that exist in families. And family can be anyone who can love and be together no matter what race you come from or what sexual orientation you prefer.

The beauty in comedy lies through the lens looking within where you can see more than laughter and joy. You can see family values and systems of beliefs and relationships with different family structures. The ideal American family is one where love exists no matter what the problem it encounters. A family that sticks together stays together, and comedy sitcoms do just that by sharing moments in time.

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American Family Structure in Comedy Sitcoms from Then to Now: Essay. (2024, March 19). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 30, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/american-family-structure-in-comedy-sitcoms-from-then-to-now-essay/
“American Family Structure in Comedy Sitcoms from Then to Now: Essay.” Edubirdie, 19 Mar. 2024, edubirdie.com/examples/american-family-structure-in-comedy-sitcoms-from-then-to-now-essay/
American Family Structure in Comedy Sitcoms from Then to Now: Essay. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/american-family-structure-in-comedy-sitcoms-from-then-to-now-essay/> [Accessed 30 May 2024].
American Family Structure in Comedy Sitcoms from Then to Now: Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2024 Mar 19 [cited 2024 May 30]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/american-family-structure-in-comedy-sitcoms-from-then-to-now-essay/
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