Thursday, May 8, 2008

Family Sitcoms: Gone the Way of the Dodo

In this age of crime and medical dramas, families have disappeared off the face of network TV, and along with them the family sitcom. The family sitcom which was a regular staple of broadcast television networks has gone the way of the dodo, rare and extinct. We no longer have a family hour of television, to sit down and enjoy a show together - as a family. In the 80's and 90's, we had such family fare as "The Cosby Show", "Full House", "Family Ties", "Growing Pains", "Roseanne", "Who's the Boss", "Home Improvement", and "Family Matters" to name a few. They were sitcoms about families for families, which drew the family as a unit around their TV screens to peek in on, an albeit fictional family, but one which might be sharing similar problems as them. Given the times, the families depicted on TV were as diverse as those you might have found in any town or city in America: upscale (The Cosby Show), working-class (Roseanne), merged, with children from previous marriages, (Step by Step), or single parent (Full House). Parents and kids could tune in and see subjects such as first day's of school, first dates, or first times (if you know what I mean) dealt with humor and tactfulness. Were the shows innocent and naive sometimes? Yes. Was the advice doled out during some episodes downright hokey? Yes, again. But if that's the worst criticism to offer, I'd take it. In truth, the real benefit of each show wasn't that it taught parenting skills or that it gave parents just the right thing to say for that first sex talk, it was that it brought the family together. During that half-hour to an hour, you might have laughed, cried, or maybe (hopefully) talked, but most importantly you shared time, together.