ASU TV Series of Portray Family and Marriages Discussion

1. List your 3 favorite television shows (not counting sports or shows that would not include a portrayal of marriages and families).

2. How are families issues portrayed in these shows?

3. How are YOUR families similar or different from what you see on the TV shows?

4. How do television images contribute to myths about the family?

Reply to Classmates:

From Huong

My 3 favorite shows that include a portrayal of marriages and families are Mom, Modern Family and the Crown. On the show Mom, it follows dysfunctional daughter/mother duo Christy and Bonnie Plunkett, who, after having been estranged for years while both were struggling with addiction, attempt to pull their lives and their relationship together by trying to stay sober and attending Alcoholics Anonymous. It has been applauded for addressing themes of real-life issues such as alcoholism, drug addiction, teen pregnancy, addictive gambling, homelessness, relapse, cancer, death, domestic violence, overdose, palsy, rape, obesity, stroke, ADD, and miscarriage. It has been praised for maintaining a deft balance between the humorous and darker aspects of these issues. Modern Family, revolves around three different types of families (nuclear, blended and same-sex) living in the Los Angeles area, who are interrelated through Jay Pritchett and his children, daughter Claire and son Mitchell. Patriarch Jay remarried to a much younger woman, Gloria Delgado Pritchett, a passionate Colombian immigrant with whom he has a young son, Fulgencio Joseph “Joe” Pritchett, and a son from Gloria’s previous marriage, Manny Delgado. Jay’s daughter Claire was a homemaker, but has returned to the business world. She is now the chief executive of her father’s business, Pritchett’s Closets and Blinds. She is married to Phil Dunphy, a realtor and a self-professed “cool dad” who is an amateur magician as well. They have three children: Haley, a stereotypically ditzy teenage girl; Alex, an intelligent but nerdy middle child; and Luke, the offbeat only son. Jay’s lawyer son Mitchell and his husband Cameron Tucker have one adopted daughter, Lily Tucker-Pritchett, of Vietnamese origin. At the series finale, they adopt another child, a baby boy named Rexford. As the name suggests, this family represents a modern-day family, and episodes are comically based on situations that many families encounter in real life. Lastly, the Crown portrays the life of Queen Elizabeth II from her wedding in 1947 to Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, until the early 21st century. Throughout the show, the audience get to see the dynamic within the royal family and how being in the public life effect them as human being. Being in the high status on their country, the royal family has a sense of duties to protect rather than their own happiness. My family is somewhat more similar to the Modern Family, we are a blended family but the dynamic is not as good as the show is. I don’t feel comfortable to say more, but it’s dysfunctional. Television in family life is not solely a matter of studying its effects on family members; it also involves looking at TV as a phenomenon that serves a whole range of social purposes the study of which can shed light on general family functioning. Over the year, how TV portrayal family has changed drastically. Before, TV tend to make family dynamic as idealistic and loving, which many are very lucky to have. However, realistically the statistic of broken family are way more higher. Therefore, now we get to see more of a real family dynamics even if its dark and sad.

From Kelsey

Some of my favorite TV shows include This Is Us, How I Met Your Mother, and The Walking Dead. This Is Us focuses on three siblings: two biological and one adopted brother. It depicts family in a realistic, modern way that is more representative of non-traditional families. For example, This Is Us does not shy away from difficulties one of the siblings, Randall, experiences as a Black man adopted into an all-white family. In How I Met Your Mother, family is focused on a friend group. In early seasons, their “family” consists of friends, hookups, and partners but in the end, they all help each other find their ways in New York City. Finally, The Walking Dead depicts characters from all different backgrounds that are brought together through a zombie apocalypse. Rick, Daryl, Glenn, and Michonne fend for the group for the sake of survival and take on familial roles, despite their social differences.

My family is most comparable to This Is Us. I grew up with divorced parents, stepparents, many siblings, and an older sister who was actually adopted from my parents before I was born. However, the biggest difference I see compared to the show is how stressful meshing multiracial family members can be. Growing up with mixed cousins was never something I thought much of, but as an adult, I learned how unwelcoming many of my older, white family members were to my Black uncle. This exemplifies how the tides are shifting by generation, but only time will tell how the media reflects these cultural changes.

While This Is Us is progressive in its depiction of family dynamics, they, unfortunately, play into some myths as discussed in our textbook. Specifically, the “Unstable African American Family” myth is one that Randall’s character is victim to. His biological mother and father are shown as heroin users and abandoning Randall at the fire station after being born. These images are damaging portrayals of Black families because it perpetuates a myth that ignores institutional barriers, such as poverty, that disproportionately lead Black into drug use, for example. Instead, these depictions make it seem as though Black people are the issue themselves, which absolves institutions of systemic racism.

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