Portraits of the Times
American families as depicted on television
1950s: The Cleavers (Leave It to Beaver)
Run: 1957–1963 Location: Mayfield (fictional), Middle america
Setup: selfless, loving parents safely guide innocent but mischievous youngster
and older brother over the hurdles of suburban boyhood.
Problems: Bullies, youthful curiosity, chore shirking, self-inflicted haircuts
Accomplishment: Forever lent name to idealized midcentury family
1960s: The Davises (Family Affair)
Run: 1966–1971 Location: Upper east side, Manhattan
Setup: swinging bachelor’s lifestyle disrupted by brother’s death
and subsequent guardianship of three orphaned children.
Problems: single-parent household, fear of abandonment, lost doll, Uncle’s revolving door of girlfriends
Accomplishment: nominated for 8 emmys
1970s: The Bunkers ( All in the Family)
Run: 1968–1979 Location: astoria, Queens
Setup: lovable bigot clashes with liberal son-in-law, while passive wife and
daughter attempt to mediate altercations.
Problems: Fights about president nixon; stress-induced impotence; getting stuck in elevator
with hysterical secretary, pregnant puerto rican, and black businessman
Accomplishment: Won 3 consecutive emmys
1980s: The Huxtables ( The Cosby Show)
Run: 1984–1992 Location: Brooklyn heights, Brooklyn
Setup: Black upper-middle-class doctor and lawyer raise house full of kids
according to Bill cosby’s unique parenting philosophy.
Problems: Finishing vegetables, cake thievery, bad sweaters
Accomplishment: reached no. 1 in nielsen ratings for 5 consecutive seasons
1990s: The Conners (Roseanne )
Run: 1988–1997 Location: langford (fictional), illinois
Setup: Matriarch presides over lower-middle-class family with sarcastic, hard love.
Problems: Making ends meet, teen sex, weight loss, domestic violence, salesman dying in kitchen
Accomplishment: Won 4 emmys
2000s: The Bluths (Arrested Development )
Run: 2003–2006 Location: Orange county, california
Setup: Wealthy real-estate tycoon jailed for defrauding investors; sole responsible
son tries hopelessly to corral family of self-obsessed wastrels.
Problems: Fraudulent business practices, accidental collaboration with iraqi regime, threat of cousin incest
Accomplishment: developed cult following
2010s: The Pritchetts (Modern Family)
Run: 2009– Location: los angeles, california
Setup: Wealthy divorcé and much younger colombian wife oversee sprawling extended family
that combines an adoptive gay couple and more traditional nuclear family.
Problems: Finding autonomy as a housewife, re-creating miraculous basketball shots for Youtube,
drugging sick partner to go to lady Gaga concert alone
Accomplishment: Won 11 emmys