The 1980s were the decade of family television.
Okay, to be fair, family TV is a concept that stretches back to the nascence of the medium. But, unlike previous decades, ’80s family sitcoms featured nuclear families strengthened by empowered marriages, a concept struggling to survive in 21st century television. My generation was raised on the Huxtables, the Keatons, and the Seavers. A decade of friend-based sitcoms later (Seinfeld, Will & Grace, and the eponymous Friends) and what kind of families are premiering on TV in 2013? Struggling single mothers, gay single dads, middle-aged divorcees wreaking havoc on their grown children’s lives, and The Goldbergs.
Why does television have to flash back to the ’80s to produce a good look at American family life?
To be fair, we do have Modern Family, The Middle, and Last Man Standing. But where are the power couples? Where are Cliff and Clair Huxtable, the working professionals who managed to raise 5 brilliant kids in a rather down-to-earth upper-middle -class household? Or Jason and Maggie Seaver, who cut a deal so dad could work from home and be there for the kids? What about Steven and Elyse Keaton who relished in the political-intellectual challenges posed by their son Alex? Even Roseanne, for as brutish a look at blue collar America as it was, featured a loving and supportive married couple that weathered some serious storms.
This year’s premieres feature MOM, a single mother going through AA with their own drug-addicted mother, Back in the Game, a single mother left penniless on her father’s doorstep for refusing to get a boob job, and a self-titled Trophy Wife trying to relate to her step-kids.
So much for female empowerment.