Leave it to Beaver
When people think back to the 1950’s a rich, black and white image comes to mind. The father comes home from work, the children from school and the mother is in the kitchen baking cookies. This vision of the average family as depicted by the famous television show, “Leave it to Beaver,” in some part represented the society of the 1950’s. This was partly due to the increase in popularity of television, a booming economy and the rise of the suburban residential areas. This is why many considered the 1950’s to be so “Cleaveresque.”
The rise of the popular television show was more than likely not the primary reason for the way society acted, but a product of the time. Previously, the only form of family entertainment was the radio. While it did entertain, the lack of visual aid reduced its appeal slightly, but the major reason it did not affect people was its inability to physically portray the average life. When the television first was invented, it acted as simply an eye shocker. Its lack of programs made it more of a novelty that a family entertainment center. However, when the first television programs began to show up, the “TV” became the focal point of the average American’s life.
To some degree, the life depicted on these shows mimicked everyday life, but it also cause life to conform to it. The popularity of the suburban residence was increasing as more people left the farms, but felt the city to be to crowded. Along with improved salaries, the average working man could pull in more money to afford such places to live in. Many aspects of the 50’s television shows, such as the shape of houses, the amount of children and even what sports were popular became an integral part of the home.
However, the matter of women’s rights was not aided, but in fact retarded by these shows. The image of the women was that of a mother, who resided in the house for most of her day unless she was going out to shop for clothes or food. At home, she would cook, clean and do other chores until the rest of the family came home. Then her life would shift to catering to their every need. This hurt the women’s movement because the image of women was just a mother, undeserving of a job and a maid.
This society of the 50’s indeed represented the early television shows. Every aspect from the stay at home mother to the white picket fences seemed to become real. The world seemed to mold itself to fit this new growing fad of television, but problems did arise. The entire women’s right movement seemed to be put on hold, but regardless of the suburban life still thrived.