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TV Parents Change “Perfect Family” Stereotypes

TV Parents Change “Perfect Family” Stereotypes

NBC recently premiered a new show, “Parenthood,” about the struggles of raising a family.  It stars Craig T. Nelson as Zeek Braverman, the family patriarch who is helping his four grown children deal with their parenting dilemmas.

His eldest daughter, played by Lauren Graham, is trying to create a fresh start for her children by moving back home after facing financial troubles.  His successful son, played by Peter Krause, is trying to overcome his own domineering tendencies to emotionally deal with the news that his son has Aspergers, a form of Autism.  Dax Shepard plays Nelson’s terminal bachelor son, who finds out he has a five year old son that he now needs to build a relationship with, and Erika Christensen, who plays Nelson’s hardworking daughter, is struggling with having to sacrifice time with her child for her demanding job as lawyer.

Needless to say, TV families have come a long way since “The Cosby Show” and “The Brady Bunch.”

A recent article by Don Aucoin from The Boston Globe described current TV parents as less of a clear authority figure, and more of a work in progress.  “What is clear is that Father does not necessarily Know Best, and Mother doesn’t always have much of a clue either,” Aucoin explained.  Carleton Kendrick, a family therapist, is happy that TV families are becoming more diverse and dysfunctional because real families measure themselves against these characters.  “During therapy sessions, families will often say “We’re not ‘The Brady Bunch’ ’’ or “It’s not ‘Little House on the Prairie.’ ’’ These are idealized versions of family life,” Kendrick points out.  Kendrick also mentioned that the pressure to emulate TV families is lessening because there is no show on right now that has that “perfect family” viewers often saw in 70’s.

Parenthood airs Tuesday’s at 10 pm on NBC.

To read The Boston Globe’s full article, “Dysfunction Junction,” click here.

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