Title

TV or not TV: Reality and Fiction in the Depiction of Family and Aliens

Subject Area

Minorities and Multicultural Issues

Abstract

This study examines the depiction of families and aliens throughout the history of American sitcoms. The first part will deal with the portrayal of family life in single-parent households and progress to the blending of families to give a sweeping overview of the movement from homes with a father-figure raising children, which goes against all logic given that the U.S. was involved in WW II, Korea, and Vietnam during the time frame of the sitcoms studied. Given the number of men killed during these wars, mothers should have been the parental figure raising children. U.S. Census Bureau statistics will be used to show if Hollywood was skewing the data to present a paternalistic perspective of American life during this time period.

In addition, Hollywood has a long history of presenting the alien as a magical being, supernatural entity, social misfit, extraterrestrial, gender bender, or racial other. This part of the study will focus on this depiction as a subtle push toward social acceptance through the use of humor to reduce the threat of otherness in society at large.

Finally, the third part of the study will examine the interstices of family and the alien to show how society has evolved (or not) over the years to move beyond the paternalistic/patriarchal/patriotic model of what constitutes the American population.

Brief Bio Note

William O. Deaver, Jr. is a professor of Spanish at Georgia Southern University-Armstrong Campus. He holds a BA in English and an MA in Spanish from the University of Virginia. He holds a PhD in Spanish from Florida State University.

Keywords

television, immigrants, family, fiction, reality

Location

Afternooon Session 2 (PARB 14/115)

Presentation Year

April 2019

Start Date

4-11-2019 3:45 PM

Embargo

11-19-2018

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Apr 11th, 3:45 PM

TV or not TV: Reality and Fiction in the Depiction of Family and Aliens

Afternooon Session 2 (PARB 14/115)

This study examines the depiction of families and aliens throughout the history of American sitcoms. The first part will deal with the portrayal of family life in single-parent households and progress to the blending of families to give a sweeping overview of the movement from homes with a father-figure raising children, which goes against all logic given that the U.S. was involved in WW II, Korea, and Vietnam during the time frame of the sitcoms studied. Given the number of men killed during these wars, mothers should have been the parental figure raising children. U.S. Census Bureau statistics will be used to show if Hollywood was skewing the data to present a paternalistic perspective of American life during this time period.

In addition, Hollywood has a long history of presenting the alien as a magical being, supernatural entity, social misfit, extraterrestrial, gender bender, or racial other. This part of the study will focus on this depiction as a subtle push toward social acceptance through the use of humor to reduce the threat of otherness in society at large.

Finally, the third part of the study will examine the interstices of family and the alien to show how society has evolved (or not) over the years to move beyond the paternalistic/patriarchal/patriotic model of what constitutes the American population.