From the Brady Bunch to the Kardashians, the family has been presented in many forms in television sitcoms and, more recently, reality shows. There are many critique’s of the family presented on the TV that should be recognized.
It is not hard to identify a father figure on a television show that is portrayed as a complete fool. This bumbling character is unable to do things around the house, get the family from point A to point B on a vacation, or to help his wife and kids without making himself look like an incompetent idiot. In situations in which he does do something right, it is almost unexpected and surprising that he was able to accomplish whatever he set out to do. This father is generally for some comedic relief or as a filler character. Some examples would be: Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin, most of the dads on Disney Channel and Nickelodeon.
While in many ways this seems harmless, it is projecting an acceptance of fathers who are unable and often unwilling to do housework, care for their children, and help their wife out with typical tasks. This is generally not the kind of man that we want in our marriages and families, so why do we allow it to be promoted on television and into our homes and the minds of viewers.
In contrast to the dumb dads of TV, mothers may on the surface seem like a more flattering depiction. However, if you look deeper, the ways in which mothers are displayed are more or less just as bad as the depiction of men and fathers.
When it comes to sex (obviously in more mature shows), women are often projected as either wanting nothing to do with sex or being objectified. Men, on the other hand, always seem to be interested in sex.
Many have criticized the TV’s portrayal of children. In many shows, especially on shows meant for children themselves, children are depicted as acting much older than they are and often being sassy and disrespectful towards their parents and children. Some of this may have to do with the fact that the actors playing these children are generally older than there characters. Many children do not realize this, however, and replicate many of the characteristics of TV characters.
I worked as a nanny a few summers ago and was shocked at how the 7 year old girl that I watched picked up so many characteristics from the shows she watched. She would watch an episode of “Victorious” or “H2O” and would immediately begin to act like the characters.
Furthermore, children on TV shows often portray stereotypes: the popular kids, the cheerleaders, the nerds, the good students, the bad kids, etc. In many ways they enforce students to associate with different stereotypes and to create them among their own peers.
This is not to say that there are not exceptions to these TV stereotypes. There have been notable and admirable depictions of fathers, mothers, and children that are praiseworthy. However, these characters are much harder to find and not always as interesting or amusing as their TV counterparts. TV is for entertainment and our society often finds bumbling characters with lots of problems and quirks to be the most entertaining, however, I doubt that anyone would prefer their families to be like those on TV in actuality.