Every boomer with a TV knows that June Cleaver was constantly turning to her ever-so-wise husband, Ward, for advice on “what to do about the boys.” Although she kept an immaculate home—preferring to vacuum in her shirtwaist dress (smartly accessorized with pearls and heels)—and served healthy dinners in the dining room, June seemed to lack full cognitive development. If a situation required deeper thought, she just wasn’t up to it.
There’s no doubt that TV in the 1950s centered on the dominance of both the male and the pale. Boomers were weaned on situation comedies wherein the children of middle-class white families encountered problems dealing with homework, friendships, or young romance. For support and guidance, they’d turn to their fathers. Donna Reed was the exception. But then, she was married to a doctor who was busy healing the children of the neighborhood… a hero in his own right.
Our generation recognized the inequities fostered by the boob tube and, through years of protest and struggle, challenged and changed many of these social ills. But we seemed to have lost something in the process. In fact, today’s media is spewing a far different message to our grandchildren than we got growing up.
Rather than little life lessons in kindness, telling the truth, and being a good friend, many of today’s messages revolve around backstabbing, fighting, and making sure #1 comes out on top. Granted, shows like the Housewives’ series are aimed towards an adult audience, but it’s almost a certainty that the attitudes and actions celebrated by these and other popular shows trickle down to the youngest members of the household. I, for one, wonder what messages they’re getting.
Now I’m certainly not up for returning to the days of deferring to male and pale—in truth, we boomers are still working on that one! But I do think it’s time we grannies step in and do what we can to insure that our precious progeny are provided with the uplifting homilies and life lessons ingrained in us by Ward Cleaver and his ilk. Being fair-minded, responsible, honest and compassionate were lessons those dads from the 1950s espoused. So… when you come to think of it, once in a while, I guess that father really did know best!