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Nostalgic for MOM Power

Can Clair Huxtable host a class for today's single and struggling TV moms?

by
Susan L.M. Goldberg

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September 30, 2013 - 7:30 am
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80sfamilies

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.

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"Today’s sitcom marriages, by and large, have been thrown away and its female leads and viewers are the ones paying the price."

Really? Female leads are paying the price? Perhaps you should take another look and, oh, wait, where's the MALE leads? Just like in too many real world marriages, they've been "thrown away" and now we're supposed to commiserate with the poor, hapless female lead....
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't see why they can't do a good family sitcom featuring a modern day family...

Let's see, the story would focus on a happily married young couple, John and Emma, who have an infant daughter, Katie. Emma, a former teacher at the local elementary school, took a year off to spend time with her daughter and still has eight months left before going back to work. John suddenly finds himself out of work and is unable to find work and the young couple have to move out of the reasonably nice two bedroom apartment they had been renting. With nowhere else to go, John and Emma have to rely on family. Since Emma's family is "back east", the young couple move into the basement of John's family home.

Back home are John's mother, Katherine, a long time stay-at-home Mother and wife who adores her first grandchild, who also happens to be named after her (not really, but John and Emma let her believe that.) Frank, Katherine's husband and stepfather to all of her children. Yes, he's a stepfather, but he may as well be their father because he's been there for a very long time helping Katherine raise her kids.

Then there are John's three younger siblings... Leigh, his 19 year old sister who was forced to stay at home and go to the local state college instead of going to "Party State University," 100 feet from a beautiful white sand Florida beach due to economics... and poor grades. Then there is Alex, John's 16 year old younger brother, a very handsome, but rather shy and clueless young man who has all the girls after him but doesn't quite realize it and finally, Sarah, Katherine and Frank's only child together, who is ten years old and can be the "cute kid" of the show... she HATES being called a cute kid though.

Throw in a best friend for everyone and a divorced, middle-aged neighbor who is the town gossip and you have yourself a wonderful family show.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
If you wanted to make a little less horrible for the young couple, make it so that it wasn't economics that drove them to move back in with the parents. The two bedroom apartment they had been renting, the landlord decided to turn the whole building into condos. John and Emma, unable to afford to BUY the apartment, search for another apartment just as nice as the one they had but without success. When their time runs out they move in with the parents. Once back home, they see how nice it is to have a multi-generational home; low rent, lots of built-in babysitters, which greatly aid in their Friday night "date nights."

If you wanted, you could even have Katherine's mother, John's grandmother, move in. Her husband was recently taken by the cancer and she isn't dealing well with living alone. Obviously Frank and Katherine have a nice sized suburban home (make that one thing that John complains about is the his new commute to and from work) and, if it lasts a season or two, with all of this new income, Frank works, John works, Emma can go back to work, Grandma gets retirement from when she worked... all of this money... they can expand the house. Maybe build an in-law house in the backyard from Grandma. Maybe renovate the basement, there's one bedroom and a family room down there, maybe add a second bedroom so the young couple can have some privacy.

For first hundred years or more of this nations history, multi generational homes were the standard. Most people accept, with telecommuting becoming more and more popular and prices going up, it's going to make a comeback. Why not a make a funny show about a multi generational home with some real family values.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
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