Example Of Essay On Discussing Television & The American Family:

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Family, America, Media, Parents, United States, Television, Life, Children

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/11/04

Roseanne Season 1 Episode 22

Since the invention of television it became a mainstay and staple element in American life. People turned to the television, firstly for entertainment and then for news. It is television that allowed people to see and hear what was going on in their own communities and in locations far away. Television became a large part of the “family dynamic” (Reimers 114).Families and friends would make plan ahead to all sit down together so that they would not miss their favorite programming; after all this was long before the invention of the VCR , DVD, or DVRs. Over the years the programs that would predominate the networks were family-oriented series that focus on the American ideal family life and reaping the rewards of the American Dream. From “The Donna Reed Show” to “Leave it to Beaver” we are shown mothers and wives who dress in fancy skirts and high-heels to clean the house and raise children, happily doing so without opinion or complaint. At the same time the father’s are the bread winners, the daughter is a cheer leader or prom queen and the son is on the football team (Reimers 114-116). This mentality became the ideal image of the American family. As society changed so did the programming, In the 1980s we saw the same families, now with working mothers, like being successful lawyers and a mother of several children, like Clair Huxtable on “The Cosby Show.” Still, the image of a financially affluent, happy, All-American family was a false stereotype and it no longer reflected the lives of real people in the real world anymore. Until the late1980s, when the series “Roseanne” premiered and the image of American family life changed. The Connor family is not wealthy, they struggle to make ends meet and pay bills, their children are not perfect, and life was not a “dream.”
In the Season 1 episode 22, titled “Dear Mom and Dad,” originally airing April 18, 1989, the storyline centers around the family preparing for a visit from Roseanne’s parents, Al and Beverly. The couple is rather eccentric and bickers amongst themselves. However, it is the effect they have over their children whenever they come to visit that sets the tone for the episode. Both Roseanne and her, younger, sister, Jackie are immediately tense and stressed out as their parents, particularly, their mother has no problem criticizing Roseanne’s home, children and spouse, Dan behind her back to Jackie; she then essentially does the same thing when she confides in Roseanne her criticisms of Jackie’s life. This tactic represents the inability for people of their mother’s era to speak openly and directly about their feelings with the person they have the feelings about. It is easier to be covert and “not make waves.” The show, of course, uses humor as a device to take the edge off of the very real-life issues that are common in many families. The episode helps to show that the generation gap between the family ideals, values and dynamics of the 1950s and 1960s had changed a great deal for their children and families. However, Roseanne tries to follow along with her family’s “ways of doing things” and just get through the visit without disagreement. However, when her parents admit there is likelihood that they will be moving locally, she cannot fathom having to do this all of the time. She finely snaps and spews out her feelings, which is shocking and off-putting to her mother. (Roseanne).The message of the episode ultimately becomes “do not bottle up emotions” and “say what you need to say.” It is a lesson in honesty and reality in the modern television family.
The Connor family tackled all sorts of controversial issues, from poverty to homophobia and from racism to child and partner abuse. They made poignant statements about the America that of the era, in ways that sometimes tested the boundaries of television and tread on many uncomfortable taboos (Chan 1). In this episode above we see the significance of the generation gap between the two generations, Roseanne and her sister versus their own parents. The gaps and differences seen in the change of television from something synthetic, idealized and unrealistic into the potentially controversial medium for changing public opinion, is personified and is mirrored in the core story. The television of the past was intended to entertain and impart a goal onto all Americans to attain that television-like life. With “Roseanne” the show acted as a statement on the American people’s condition, the realities of not being in the highest tax bracket and trying to raise children and provide them a better life than their own, while living paycheck-to-paycheck.
The Connor family is a far cry from the television families of the past. We see two parents working what, many would call, dead end jobs. These parents are not college graduates with 6-figure incomes, but a family of Americans where home-life is not ideal. Even the relationships among the family members could only be described as dysfunctional. Given the somewhat depressing environment, the show was met with roaring success. Why was America so eager to accept a show that stretched the boundaries of what they had been told for generations is the ideal goal of a family, children, and household affairs? Despite the carefree lives often depicted on television, real American families more often than not did not resemble the classic images but more the version that Roseanne offered (Chan 1). American families are not living in a sitcom. Life’s issues, their side-effects and consequences cannot be resolved with a pep-talk in a half of an hour (Reimers 115). Roseanne offered something America found refreshing, a more sincere reflection of the All-American “functionally-dysfunctional families.”
In the end, television is more than just a medium for entertainment as it once was. Today television is used to make points, extends messages, and speak out on controversial and uncomfortable issues of this time. That said “Roseanne” was one of the first series to appear that took what was and turned it on its head. It eliminated the “cookie-cutter” family and presented a family whose children do talk back to their parents, utilities do get shut off when you cannot afford to pay them, and attitudes and presentation of the genders, and their roles in the American family, were changed. In this episode we see how the relationships with the previous generation, like parents, can be strained by the changing of ideals and the passage of time. There is little doubt that television, or whatever form of technology that is likely to take its place, will change again, in its messages, programming and artistic license may change with the changing needs and ideals of coming generations. When that happens, those who were born in the “Roseanne” generation will find differences and issues with the generation that follows it. Perhaps it is a cycle that parallels and mirrors the changing of society itself. It seems that America often shares its concerns, wants, and ideals through their artistic expression, as in television programming. That said we will see many more varying and drastic changes as the years roll by.


Chan, A.. "'Roseanne' kids, now adults, reflect on iconic show's 'taboo' episodes ." Today. N.p., 20 Aug 2913. Web. 8 Feb 2015. <http://www.today.com/popculture/roseanne-kids-now-adults-reflect-iconic-shows-taboo-episodes-6C10945713>.
Reimers, V.A. "American family tv sitcoms the early years to the present fathers, mothers, and children—shifting focus and authority." Cercles,. (2003): 114-121. Print.
Roseanne."Season 1 Episode 22-Dear Mom and Dad." Roseanne. ABC: online, 19 Apr 1987. Television. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LeWaNeKOsc>.

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Example Of Essay On Discussing Television & The American Family:. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/example-of-essay-on-discussing-television-the-american-family/. Published Nov 04, 2020. Accessed May 29, 2023.

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