Family dramas were popular in the 1960s because suddenly they represented a new era. It was the birth of a new technological age and instead of going to watch a one-off movie such as a Western , families could now enjoy watching a drama series such as “Bonanza” from the comfort of their own home giving people the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the characters each week. Families were brought closer together as they enjoyed their entertainment. Below are some reasons why family dramas were so popular in the 1960s.
* Family dramas were entertaining.
Well written family dramas were entertaining and pure escapism during changing times that were both exciting but turbulant. This gave rise to their popularity. There were protests, a youth culture sweeping the nation where children had their own identity giving rise to the teenager and the fight for equal rights regarding race and gender. In the family home television provided something safe. Dramas such as Dr Kildare portrayed someone who strove to be moral and were gentle without being offensive. There wasn’t the use of bad language that feature in so many shows today. Most of all they were fun to watch .
* Family Values
TV often portrayed the ideal family which was slowly changing in American society. The dramas would consist of a hard working man for and his wife would be a stay-at-home mom who always looked immaculately dressed. Divorce was still a taboo subject. Some shows dealt with the issue of being a single parent which was becoming more common in American culture in programs such as “Flipper” or “The Andy Griffith Show” but this was due to being widowed or the children being orphaned as in the case of “Family Affair” where the children’s hardworking Uncle takes care of the children. In a time of uncertainty it was family values that cemented the family life.
With the assassination of several prominent people in the 1960s such as John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, television dramas provided a kind of safety blanket. Having television dramas which depicted the characters aiming to do the right thing or learn from their mistakes and make amends meant that America still craved the simplicity of good old fashioned morals. For instance in Flipper you have a hardworking man Porter Ricks who is responsible and cares for his sons. It is his son Bud who often finds himself in mischief but he learns something and this sets a moral tone for the show.The dolphin Flipper also is very protective and helps to catch the baddies.
You can’t dislike Sheriff Andy Taylor in “The Andy Griffith Show” he is widowed and is a responsible caring man keeping law and order. Likewise Samantha in “Bewitched” is a warm hearted character who cares for her family as she tries to fit into living in a “mortals” world. The main reason the characters are so likable because they portray good wholesome values. They show the importance of helping others and doing the right thing even when it is difficult. They are trustworthy people, the type of characters you would like to be your neighbors.
Therefore dramas were popular in the 1960s because everyone in the family could enjoy them. Whilst American culture was changing, due to an increase in the divorce rate, protests, and the strive for equality the dramas represented a golden cosy era from the past whilst providing modern twists such as single fathers in some dramas. Providing likable characters who were also excellent role models also were reasons for their popularity. They depicted family values, were moralistic and entertaining at the same time. Even today 1960s television is popular perhaps signifying a past that viewers still long for today.