- Almost all the households were mama-papa-kiddies: the nuclear family. (The exceptions were My Three Sons and Bonanza: Steve Douglas [Fred MacMurray] and Ben Cartwright were widowers.) There were no prior marriages, no children from prior relationships, no threat or even thought of divorce, and the closest thing we saw to physical abuse was Ralph Kramden's, "One of these days, Alice, one of these days . . . to the moon!" There were no infidelities, no drinking problems, no drugs (not even prescription tranquilizers), no racism (How could there be? With the exception of Hop Sing and Ricky Ricardo, there was only one race; even the Hispanic gardener on Father Knows Best was named Frank Smith). There was no dropping out of school, no political discussion (much less political differences), no unemployment (except for Ozzie's early retirement), no severe economic problem (except for a crop failure on Lassie, when they had to sell all the livestock, including Lassie; but just before being carted off, Lassie pawed the ground and struck oil, and everything was okay again. Except for Lassie, who looked as though the Exxon Valdez had dumped its forward holding tanks on her). The father was the breadwinner; the mother was the bread maker (the only mother who came close to working was Lucy, becoming the spokeswoman for Vitavita-Vegimen or that afternoon at the candy factory). There was no fear of the bomb (which is what we kids were terrified about in the '50s), and no severe disobedience (although white lies, mischief, and misunderstandings were needed for laughs). Life was wholesome, wholesome, wholesome.[*FN]
[*FN] As much as the religious right likes to point to 1950s sitcom wholesomeness as the Ideal American Family, these shows, in fact, had a remarkable lack of religion. What religion were these people? They certainly weren't Jewish. And, other than possibly Ricky Ricardo, none of them was Catholic. They were probably safely mainline Presbyterians. But that was the name of the game: play it safe. In playing it safe, there was less mention of God and religion on these shows than actually took place in American families in the '50s.
- That life doesn't exist anymore. But then, it never did