Television: As a kid we had 3 major TV networks, ABC, NBC and CBS…then there were WOR 9 and WPIX 11 (in NYC). Most of what I saw was channel after channel of white people having white peoples’s problems (In hindsight). What my sister, mother and I saw, was good quality television. There wasn’t cursing, kissing, sex, half naked teenagers or parents. There was always a mother and father and if one of the parents weren’t around, an extended family member was around to help. Even the Sitcoms (Situation comedy)were wholesome there was no laughing at Sin or things considered distasteful for a family to sit down together and watch.
In terms of “white people’s” problems, there was an episode of The Brady Bunch where the kid didn’t want to eat his dinner. He was allowed to waste the food and leave the table! This was unheard of in my house! You ate what was in front of you and you didn’t leave until you were done. Again, in hindsight, it had nothing to do with being white and everything to do with being wealthy.
Mike Brady was an architect who built his own house and lived in the suburbs. He also remarried after the death of his wife. He could afford a housekeeper, so he had plenty of help.
In contrast, James Evans of Good Times, was a blue collar worker who loses his job and struggles to find and keep employment. He’d work low paying, often minimum wage jobs. The family battled with poverty and lived in the city. Unlike the Brady’s, they didn’t always have enough food to eat. What was obvious though, was that both sitcom families had a lot of love. Whether they lived in the Suburbs or in the poorest section of the City.
The Waltons, were another family where the value of love and working together was a message that rang though every episode. John and Olivia Walton were raising 7 children on a farm and lumber land during the Depression years. The family mostly ate what they grew and owned a lumber business. The kids were often barefoot and rose early to do house work/chores before going to school. This was not a sitcom, the family dealt with homelessness, crime, death, being a good neighbor, separation, loneliness etc. But there was always plenty of laughing, singing and playing. Each night the show would end with everyone saying goodnight to one another…
Many of the television shows in the 70’s were still crafted using the formula of the 1950’s as well as the 1930’s and 1940’s radio theater. It was about creating and maintaining a wholesome family environment. Some didn’t come close to reality, others did. The result was a generation that valued helping others, playing outside, family, friendship, knowing right from wrong and learning life’s lessons from home. If you lied or stole something, you apologized and replaced what was stolen, you confessed to the wrong doing even in the face of a “spanking/beating”, because it was the right thing to do. Then…
The Networks multiplied and opened Pandora’s proverbial box….