Opinions / TV Reviews

Family Values Missing in Popular Television Today

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by Doug Bevins

What is wrong with pop culture television today? Two words: family values. Old school tv shows like Little House on the Prairie display very positive values centered around the Ingalls family and the struggles they had to overcome and how, through rain and shine, they manage to stay together as a family. Today, television shows are, though not always, centered around sex, one night stands, and divorce. What message does this contrast send? To me, and it’s a scary one. This contrast takes the importance off of family values and focuses it instead on glorifying sex, one night stands, and divorce. Today, there are shows like Two and a Half Men and Everybody Loves Raymond that focuses on dysfunction and presents it as the norm. There are two striking differences in the previously mentioned shows: Two and a Half Men glorifies one night stands, whereas Everybody Loves Raymond shows Raymond sticking with his marriage through good and bad. What I don’t get is why shows like Little House on the Prairie get forgotten or receive blank stares when mentioned and other shows are so popular.

Another television show from the early 1990’s which has positive family values that people do tend to remember, in contrast, is Home Improvement. This wildly popular TV show focused on the trials and life of the Taylor family: Tim (dad), Jill (mom), Brad (oldest son), Randy (middle son), and Mark (youngest son). The thing that always stood out to me when watching this show was that there was very little arguing beyond what normally happens in a family as well as the fact that the Taylor family is always seen working through their problems rather than cutting and running when the going gets tough.

In conclusion, family values are not as important as they once were, as indicated by the content of many current popular television programs. If anything is going to change for the better in American culture, family values should be emphasized in our TV shows. But TV executives often do not feel it is their responsibility to preach any kinds of morality. People can deny their influence all they want, but the fact is our programs may be said to reflect who we are, but they also  tend to validate our values. Think about it.

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