Have TV families changed? Hell yes.

The Evolution of the “Modern Family”

Modern Family is a progressive show, featuring three unique familial structures and
highlighting real-life problems that normal families face. In this feature, we will explore the
evolution of television’s ‘modern family,’ from the Ricardos to the Bradys and the Huxtables,
all the way through to the Pritchetts/Dunphys.

The Ricardos (1951) – Pregnancy!

The Ricardos, of I Love Lucy fame, entertained families from 1951 to 1960. I Love Lucy was
groundbreaking in its time for a few reasons. First, the show was the first scripted show
to be filmed in 35 mm film. Second, and maybe more importantly, it was one of the first
sitcoms to feature a pregnancy. Lucille Ball became pregnant and made the radical decision
to write the pregnancy into her show. This was obviously deemed controversial at the time
as the network forbade the writers from using the word “pregnancy,” and they instead had
to use euphemisms for the term.

Question: Do you realize the married couple slept in twin beds?

The Bradys (1969) – Divorce!

The Brady Bunch aired from 1969 to 1974, permanently engraining their theme song in the
minds of generations of TV viewers. As many people know, The Brady Bunch was unique for highlighting a blended family, which was especially important in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s as divorce rates began to rise. Despite this, the network wouldn’t allow the circumstances of the demise of Carol Brady’s first marriage to be mentioned on the show, even though
creator/producer Sherwood Schwartz wanted Carol to be a divorcée. Despite this, The
Brady Bunch still helped open doors for blended families and single parents on network
television.

Question: Is divorce still taboo?

The Bunkers (1971) – War, Women’s Rights, Racism!

All in the Family, one of America’s most iconic sitcoms, had its groundbreaking original run
from 1971 to 1979. All in the Family was so unique due in part to its main character, the
working class bigot, Archie Bunker. The show was able to address real issues like racism,
homosexuality, women’s liberation, the Vietnam War, menopause, impotence and more.
Shows on network television were not previously able to poke fun at or even mention these
issues, so having a show that injected real life issues into it was a great triumph for sitcoms
as a whole.

Question: How well were the 70’s illustrated?

The Huxtables (1984) – Stereotypes challenged!

The Cosby Show originally ran from 1984 to 1992, and almost single handedly revived
the sitcom genre! The Cosby Show was unique first in that it featured an affluent African
American family (Cliff was a doctor and his wife, Clair, was a lawyer). This helped pave the
way for shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Second, the show was based partially on
Bill Cosby’s standup acts, which centered on his family. Other shows, like Everybody Loves
Raymond, would later follow this unique format.

Question: What is your favorite episode of The Cosby Show?

The Conners (1988) – Honesty!

Roseanne, which ran from 1988 to 1997, revolved around a working class family from
Illinois. Like All in the Family, Roseanne dealt with taboo topics, like poverty, drugs, race,
domestic violence, social classes stratification and more in an open and honest way. Aside
from dealing with real issues, Roseanne also featured a more realistic-looking cast, including
a mom and dad who were overweight, and a strong female figure who challenged the typical
role of women in the household. Perhaps because of this realism, the show was one of the
most-watched shows on television during its nine season run.

Question: How many wives run the show in families you know?

Pritchett’s/Dunphy’s (2009-present)Eccentric personalities!

Join TV’s #1 family for another hilarious and refreshingly original season of Modern Family,
winner of eleven Emmy® Awards, including Outstanding Comedy Series two years in a
row! As the extended Pritchett/Dunphy clan faces an uproariously unpredictable array of
family vacations, holiday hassles, troublesome in-laws, and surprising secrets, they still
somehow manage to thrive together as one big, loving family — even as they drive each
other absolutely insane! Season Three features a hilarious gag reel and never-before-seen
couch confessions that will make you laugh out loud and remind you why viewers and
critics alike have fallen in love with this thoroughly Modern Family.

Question: Do you know many gay couples who have adopted children?

Discussion questions:

  1. How has TV changed families in the real world? What conversations do they start? How much do we mimic them?
  2. Have TV Families changed enough to reflect reality? Is what you see on the screen what you experience in life?
  3. How has television changed family dynamics? Has popular culture on the screen influenced your family?
  4. Did the shows you watched growing up affect your family and how they acted?

Text Provided (aside from the discussion prompts and questions) provided by Fox Home Entertainment
Modern Family – TV’s #1 Family Comes to Blu-ray and DVD September 18

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