Lately, my husband Daniel, attracts my attention to The Cosby Show. I know, this an old sitcom series and I do have memories liking it. But watching it all over again has given me a new perspective.
I remember one day, watching the Oprah Winfrey Show where they discussed about how The Cosby Show has influenced parents role in the family. In term of parenting, The Cosby Show has become a fun ‘class’. On the other hand, The Cosby Show has become a declaration of middle class African American families to be a part of the United State by building strong nation from their roots, which is family.
Watching it again has also reminded me of other family sitcoms at that time. Does 80’s family sitcom series ring you a bell? Beside The Cosby Show, I also remember Growing Pains.
These sitcoms have few things in common, one of which is father playing bigger role in parenting. Both family sitcom put Mr. Huxtable and Dr. Jason Seaver take more care of the kids. In fact, Dr. Seaver, works as psychiatrist at home because his wife, Maggie, goes back to work as a reporter. The most interesting part that attracts me much is how these sitcoms has portrait an ideal family in raising a big happy family.
Another question also crossed my mind, what is happening to family sitcoms nowadays? There are few family sitcoms that I love to watch, including Surburgatory or Cougar Town. But before I drown myself into this, I give myself a refresh flashback in late 90’s. The 90’s reminds me of few family sitcoms like The Nanny and Gilmore Girls (actually these sitcom were broadcasted in early 2000, but let’s just put them in the 90s :D)
The decade has brought me into another family bonding image. If we watch the Nanny and Gilmore Girls, we see how the ‘magic box’ has told stories about single parents struggling to raise child(ren). The Nanny portrays about a family who gets back the happiness after the parent’s divorce, thanks to their loving and coquettish Nanny. The Gilmore Girls describes how a single mother can really stand on her ground together with her only lovely daughter.
For me, the 90’s family sitcoms talk more about the survival of families in the increasing divorce tendency. And since these series are made United State, it is essential to present you the divorce rate in Uncle Sam ‘territory’. According Associated Counselors & Therapist , the divorce rate peaked at 5.3 divorces per 1,000 people in 1981. Maybe this percentage contribute to the idea script writers put in their family sitcoms. I don’t know, I just like guessing…hihihihihihi….It’s kind of interesting to map the movie series based on sociological facts.
So what messages are delivered by Surburgatory or Cougar Town? As a single parent who lives in urban society, friends have become their closest family. That is why the most portrayed scene of the stories is about how their spending time with their neighbors. Even a single father like George Altman (Surburgatory) or single mother like Jules Cobb (Cougar Town) who raises their only child, need a break by hanging out with his/her friends next door.
The good news is, the divorce rate is declining lately. The Associated Press told that the increasing of cohabitation rate was the biggest contribution to the declining divorce rate. Cohabitation increases because most of people in the State see divorce have hurts their child(ren). So they prefer to stay together or wait longer to decide to marry their lovers one. This perspective has dropped the marriage rate nearly 30 percent in the past 25 years, and Americans are waiting about five years longer to marry than they did in 1970.
Does that mean that happy family only exists in 80’s sitcom series? Let’s watch Parenthood and Modern Family. Not again, really Pris, other family sitcom….hihihihihi….i do love watching it folks 😀 These two family sitcom has given me fresh air. Not only giving me more complex family stories, both of these family sitcom have also put a little hint of how families nowadays have to prepare themselves in unusual circumstances, like dealing with gay or autistic family member.
They do not talk about stigma in family matters, but they also show us how to stay in your family, how to see family as your significant other who will accept you no matter what, how to bring back the family as the center of your energy to face all the uncertainty and the fear of rejection from the world.
So for me, the family sitcom has taught me a lot of thing, particularly about how to stay happy with your family no matter what happens. Laughing together with your family is the best way to keep you awake of how you have become the luckiest bastard in the world 😀