Leave It to Beaver (1957-1963)
Ellen Foley, Catherine Walsh, & Kevin Boylan
Leave it to Beaver was an American sitcom produced by Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher that premiered in October 1957 (incidentally the same day Sputnik launched). The show was broadcast by ABC and subsequently by CBS as 30 minute, black and white episodes. The show was well reverted by a wide audience, though not as popular as its contemporaries. This came as no surprise, as the shallow, rosy characters provided no controversy. Leave It to Beaver was selected to be one of Time's magazines "best 100 shows of all time," and had a brief revival with the same cast in 1983. The cast featured Barbra billingsly as June, Hugh Beaumont as Ward, Tony Dow as Wally, and Jerry Mathers as Beaver. Each episode featured some version of "bad behavior" by the children and displayed parenting techniques to deal with this unique to each situation in the episode.
The main themes of this long-running TV sitcom fit perfectly into the 1950s mold of the ideal American life. Traditional gender roles in a nuclear family is a major part of the characters’ identities. June Cleaver is the perfect housewife: she dresses nicely while cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the house while Ward goes to work and the kids head to school each day. She loves her husband and sons, and concerns herself with their looks and cleanliness, often leaving the important teaching moments to Ward. He is the main disciplinarian in the house, as any 1950s father would be expected to be. His main role is as a father, not a working man, and little is given away about his work life. This nuclear family life is also very secure and safe, clearly displaying the mentality that there is security and happiness in domesticity. Political and international issues that plagued the world at the time are never mentioned; the show is an escape from the more dangerous realities of the world outside of domestic tranquility. Morality is another important theme in the sitcom, and there is a constant string of lessons being taught to viewers as Ward teaches Beaver. This emphasis on raising children right once again shows the focus on family life and the importance of passing on lessons of morality to the next generation.We can connect Leave it to Beaver to our class reading “Homeward Bound”. The show represents the typical suburban life in the 1950’s. On the show we can see the typical suburban home with all the new appliances around the house. The family structure was strong between the parents and the children.The parents, June and Ward, have a very stable marriage. Ward goes to work while June takes care of the house work and the children. When Ward comes home from work June has dinner ready for the family. June is always dressed up nice with pearls and an apron. After dinner it is typical for Ward to read the newspaper. The show also always has a message for the children to learn when they do something wrong. The message is always taught by the father. This show connected to the audience so well because it showed everyday problems that young children might face. That is why the father was always telling the children the right thing to do.