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Changes in TV Shows: 1950-1980

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Brianna Drew

on 18 June 2015

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Transcript of Changes in TV Shows: 1950-1980

Three Decades of Change:
TV from 1950 - 1980

Television Set Design: 1930's - 2000's
Historical Significance
The change of television throughout these decades was historically significant because at the time, television was very new and wasn't nearly as common as it is today, but now almost everyone has one and it has pretty much become a necessity in everyday life. By the late 1960s, there were approximately 200 million TV sets around the world. Today, in 2015, there are approximately 630 million. That's over 3x the amount of TVs owned worldwide within nearly 50 years. If it wasn't for the rise of television in these three decades and the decades following, our world would be much different than what it is today. Television has shaped our society in many positive and negative ways. Advertisements (a more modern form of propaganda) for things such as beauty products and fitness equipment have changed the way people think about what makes people "attractive". Males think that they have to have huge muscles to be "hot" and females think that they have to be super skinny and tall to be "pretty" which has ultimately affected people's mental health. An example of how television has affected society for to better is that there are now famous TV personalities that are and/or promote homosexuality in the public and that you shouldn't have to hide who you love and should not be ashamed of it such as
"The Ellen DeGeneres Show"

Although television is still very much a large part of today's culture and society, ever since the invention of the internet and thus websites that carry television shows such as Netflix and YouTube, the number of people watching television on an actual TV set has significantly decreased, especially among the teenage generation. As streaming TV shows and movies on the world wide web becomes more and more popular as the younger generations grow older, it is very possible that television may get buried in history along with the cassette tape and the VCR.
Ethical Considerations
Continuity and Change
From the 1950s to the end of the 1970s, television changed dramatically in many aspects and also continued to stay the same in other ways as well. In the 1950s, The United States television industry dominated Canada and there were very few Canadian television shows as most Canadians were watching American shows. This never changed throughout the 60s and onto the 70s and is actually still the case today in 2015. Also, in the 1950s, there were only approximately 4 TV stations (NBC, CBS, ABC, and CBC) and by the late 1970s, that number had only increased by about 1 or 2 stations.

Some things that did change, however, about television throughout these decades include the cost. In the 1950s, a television set cost between $200-$500 and by the end of the 70s, it cost between $400-$700, which is an increase of $200 in 20 years. The television shows themselves changed drastically as well. Shows in the 50s such as
"I Love Lucy"
"The Honeymooners"
"Lone Ranger", "Leave it to Beaver",
etc. depicted the ideal lifestyle, a father bring in charge of a family and the mother taking care of the house and children, one big happy family. Shows in the 70s such as
"All in the Family"
, however, were much more realistic and showed life as the not-all-dandelions-and-rainbows thing it actually is. Another important change in television during this time was the switch from black and white to colour and therefore the development of more technologically advanced models. Colour TV was invented in the 50s, but it was extremely uncommon and it did not become the normal until the 70s, when the last black and white TV was manufactured (1978). Along with the colour TV, the remote control was invented in the 50s, but again, did not become common among average families until the 1970s.One final major change to television that occurred within these 30 years and continues to change today is what actors are allowed to say/do/show on television in terms of profanity, nudity, sexual acts, etc. In the 1950s, actors on TV had to be completely covered and it was even considered "scandalous" for couples to sleep in the same bed on TV. No profanity whatsoever was allowed on television in the 1950s but by the 1970s, some words such as "damn" and "hell" were allowed.
Cause and Consequence
In this time period, many things that were said/shown and things that people did would be considered today as "politically incorrect". Two major problems that were associated with television back then were sexism and racism. These are of course happening on television today, however, if it is, it is very little and subtle whereas back in the 50s-70s, it was much more blatant. Men on television were always in suits and working because he was "the man of the house" and in charge while the women were always at home cooking or cleaning and taking care of the children at the same time. The role of the man was a symbol of power in a sense which ultimately lessened the value of women on television. Women were of course portrayed as stupid, weak, annoying, etc. and men were always shown to be the superior gender of television. Racism at this time wasn't so much heard as it was seen. Almost every show aired at this time had an all-white cast with no black people at all as they felt that audiences wouldn't want to look at black people and the cast wouldn't want to be near them. There was one all-black show called "Amos 'n' Andy" and it was actually very successful (winning an Emmy award in 1952) but still involved many racist comments and jokes that could be considered offensive. The show was completely taken off air for good in 1966 due to the comments said on the program, but mostly was due to the all-black cast and TV network racism.
I Love Lucy
The Ed Sullivan Show
Looney Tunes
The Twilight Zone
Today Show
Leave it to Beaver
Tom and Jerry
The Honeymooners
Lone Ranger
Coronation Street
The Brady Bunch
The Andy Griffith Show
The Beverly Hillbillies
Sesame Street
The Flinstones
Doctor Who
Star Trek
Gilligan's Island
Family Affair
All in the Family
The Young and the Restless
The Price is Right
Little House on the Prairie
General Hospital
Good Morning America
Happy Days
Three's Company

Television Through the Decades and the Ways It Changed Our World. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Masculinity, Gender Roles, and T.V. Shows from the 1950s. (n.d.). Retrieved from
History of Blackface. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Most Popular TV Shows for 1950-1959. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Most Popular TV Shows for 1960-1969. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Most Popular TV Shows for 1970-1979. (n.d.). Retrieved from
By Brianna Drew
In the 1950s, TV was almost like a way to escape reality and families were portrayed as what society thought the "ideal" family should be like, but in reality, this was not the case. The world around them had many problems and things happening that they could not imagine happening in these shows, nothing bad ever seemed to happen in the world on these TV shows. In the 1960s, more news-based shows were airing which clearly showed the problems that were out-breaking in the real world, therefore it was a much more accurate reality time for television. In the 1970s, people just wanted mostly to be entertained, so the popular sitcoms were mostly comedy-based as well as some soap operas, people did not seem to care if they were realistic and reflected society or not.
"I may not be able to understand what you say when you say it, but before you say it, I can understand what you're going to say perfectly!"
- Quote from
"I Love Lucy"
"Exact words are hard to live by."
- Quote from
"The Brady Bunch"
"Just 'cause there's snow in the basement don't mean there ain't no fire in the roof!"
- Quote from
"All in the Family"
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