The evolution of the of TV family sitcom

I’ve been watching TV since I was a baby, but since I’ve been old enough to remember I’ve been watching family dramas or sitcoms.  Since I’ve had my own family, I’ve been thinking about the turning point of the family sitcom from the core values that were shown in The Cosby Show to the ones now shown on Parenthood or Modern Family.  I watched Little House on the Prairie (not nearly as much as my wife), but I got the point… I have a better memory of Family Ties or Full House and of course the Simpsons (still on and creating new episodes – wow!).

Married with Children is clearly a memory point for me as well… I remember Al having his shoe salesman job, his wife he couldn’t stand and kids that used him and never really respected him. Most importantly his hand down his pants drinking a beer. I think of this show as the game changer in 1987 it changed the love-y dove-y family images into something I have to imagine is now more real (or was back then) it also put fear into me of what life could become if you become apathetic to your wife and family and only focus on maintain (and not striving for something better).  That show gave birth to The Simpsons because without Married with Children’s success I doubt The Simpsons would have been well received.

Today we have a couple of family sitcoms Modern Family which truly lives up to some of today’s modern dynamics of blended families, remarriages, siblings separated by a generation (either with marriage or birth during a secondary marriage).  Parenthood is the next show I’ve been watching which is twisting the drama, morals into the sitcom.  Dealing with issues that many struggle with from Children with asperger’s syndrome to entire families having to move back in with parents/grandparents because of circumstances (economic or personal).

I watch both shows with a desire to see if they try to instill the moral compass that The Cosby Show tried to put there or Family Ties or Growing Pains or even Full House.  Will Parenthood shift into more drama then humor like Brothers & Sisters or will it curve back to Modern Family? What are you watching in the Family sitcom/drama? Ps. Dont worry we’ll cover Mad Men once its getting into its new season!

10 thoughts on “The evolution of the of TV family sitcom”

  1. Currently it's The Middle and Modern Family. We haven't had a chance to see Parenthood yet.

    We watch both because it reminds us of us really. Or where we could be heading. The Middle in regards to the just worn out parents who love their kids and deal with all their idiosyncrasies.

    Modern Family seems a bit more real for us. The goofy dad, the hot wife who's really in charge. I also connect with Jay (Al Bundy) because he's a step dad like I am. He deals with stuff like I have.

  2. The bits I have seen of Parenthood remind me of Thirtysomething. I have really liked Modern Family so far. For comedic value the situations in Modern Family are at times off the wall. I like how the episodes comes full circle and despite the craziness they always come together as a family.

  3. I have been watching Parenthood. I was a Gilmore Girls fan and love Lauren Graham so I was excited to see her showing up again. It's good! I was disappointed with the premier but since then it has grown on me. I do think TV shows have taken a turn towards Drama, Less “Friends” type sitcoms and more Law & Order, or Grey's Anatomy. Still Community promises to have the comedy I am looking for, no family values though. I think when it comes to the old Cosby shows, those values still hold up in the modern world, just with a little more mess, as long as you invest in family dinners, and time with your kids…Life could be a bowl of pudding. 😉

  4. I love Parenthood and Modern Family. Parenthood feels more like it will be a drama while Modern Family just cracks me up all the time. I also like Cougar Town. It's friends that make the family there. It's also hysterical.

    I used to watch Brothers & Sisters and I still catch it every now and again, but I think it may be past it's prime. Sadly. Sorry to say that I hated Married With Children. Just could not get past the wardrobe.

    Having grown up without a “family” in the traditional sense, I always loved Eight is Enough. I was an only child and I wanted to have a big family of my own. If not for anything but to divide the responsibilty of taking care of me when I am in my old age. That show was big and messy and more real to life than Little House on the Prarie or the Waltons (really dating myself now!) and I loved it. But I am exhausted with three kids, and that makes us five- so it's close enough.

  5. I pretty much was addicted to television growing up. I watched many of the same shows as you and have good memories of those shows.
    We got rid of tv at our house because of the content of most of the shows and what we felt wasn't very good for our kids to view. I have my issues with Disney.
    However I do watch Hulu and have been watching Parenthood and last night I checked out Modern Family. I thought they were actually pretty decent shows in regards to the representation with families today. My hope and wish is that they do a decent job of representing Dads.

  6. We are watching Modern Family. Love it – our family is a bit strange like theirs.

    We watched the pilot of Parenthood, but it was a little to real for us. We would be the friends of the family dealing with a new diagnosis of Aspergers. If it was brought out like a comedy (but how do you deal with such serious issues in a comedy?) I would love it. The actors involved are great.

    The Middle is fun and funny with a silly moral at the end. It's mindless, and these days that is just what I need!

  7. I watched one scene from Parenthood (the whole family smoking pot together at the grade school) and found it cloying, insipid and disingenuous. But I admittedly didn't get the whole picture.

    Modern Family, on the other hand, compelling and engaging. Rather than trying to mirror reality, it distorts and amplifies it – often with legitimately LOL moments of very funny writing/acting – and in doing so delivers very recognizable moments of familial dynamics.

    Um… or, sumthin' like that.

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