19 Classic TV Sitcom Families from the ’70s That Would Be Challenged for Promoting Stereotypes Today

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The 1970s gave the audience many memorable family moments as it introduced them to various sitcoms. In each film, there had to be a favorite character, and some even saw their ideal family moments in the lives of those sitcom families. However, as the standards have evolved, you might question those families whom you once asked. Let’s discuss 19 of them today.

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The Bunkers from ‘All in the Family’

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The groundbreaking piece of its time, ‘All in the Family, ’ features controversial issues. One of the family members, Archie Bunker, was a patriarch who could be characterized by his apparent intolerance towards people of other races. He expressed racist and homophobic behavior towards them. Even though the show aimed to tackle these issues, Archie’s character reinforced these stereotypes somewhere.

The Bradys from ‘The Brady Bunch’

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The Bradys from ‘The Brady Bunch’ were the ideal family everyone wished to have. It depicted a unified family with six children, often portraying traditional gender roles. The Mother, Carol Brady, was the one to perform household duties, and the father, Mike Brady, was the one earning in the house, aka Breadwinner. This portrayal promoted the idea of women being homemakers and men being the providers, which might receive negative reviews from today’s audience for not only gender stereotypes but also the lack of racial diversity in the show’s cast.

The Jeffersons from ‘The Jeffersons’

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‘The Jeffersons’ is a spin-off of ‘All in the Family’; this is how the African American couple, George and Lousie Jefferson, are featured. The show was appreciated for featuring a black family in an upscale setting. Still, the character of George might be criticized today for portraying stereotypes about African men as aggressive and materialistic. The show attempted to address racial issues, but George’s frequent use of offensive language and his volatile temper would be problematic today.

The Cunninghams from ‘Happy Days’

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Made in 1974, this show featured life in the 1950s. ‘Happy Days’ depicted the life of the Cunningham family. The show was a massive hit back then, but disappointingly, it glorified a time when societal norms were highly conservative, especially regarding gender roles and racial integration. The problem was not only typical gender roles but also racial diversity.

The Sanfords from ‘Sanford and Son’

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In the show ‘Sanford & Son,’ Fred Sanford is an irritable junk dealer father to his son, Lamont. The show provides a platform for African American people to address racial issues. However, Fred’s character often perpetuates negative stereotypes because he is lazy and conniving. People might scrutinize the show for using racial slurs even in a self-critical manner and for overlooking the actual struggle a single parent would face.

The Partridges from ‘The Partridge Family’

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This beloved show from the early 1970s captivated the audience’s hearts through its catchy tunes and family-friendly storylines. The Partridge family included a widowed mother and five children who formed a pop music band. Shirley Partridge was the mother and was depicted as flawless. The show depicted a sanitized and unrealistic view of single-parent families. In today’s world, people do not want to see the real struggles single parents face while balancing parenting and work.

The Evanses from ‘Good Times’

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The Evans family was an African family living in a Chicago housing project, and ‘Good Times’ depicted their struggle. The show depicted stereotypes about poverty and inner-city life. Some people today might also interpret J.J. Evans’ character reinforcing negative stereotypes of young black men as clownish and unambitious because of his catchphrase ‘Dy-no-mite!’ and exaggerated behavior.

The Tates and Campbells from ‘Soap’

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The show, ‘Soap’, was a satirical comedy that revolved around the Tate and the Campbell families. The show was famous but known for its controversial storylines and disrespectful humor. The reason for this being on the list is evident as its depiction of many stereotypes regarding race and gender might not sit well with today’s generation. But you know a fun fact? Jodie Dallas, a character in this show, was one of the first openly gay characters on TV, which was a bold move but, unfortunately, reinforced stereotypes about the LGBTQ+ community.

The Ricardo-Mertz duo from ‘The Lucy Show’

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Started in 1962, ‘The Lucy Show’ received so much love from the audience that it was run for over a decade. It featured Lucille Ball’s character, Lucy Carmichael, and the story revolved around her misadventures. The show shows Lucy as a woman who is incompetent enough to rely on men to solve her problems. This perpetuation would receive heavy backlash from today’s audience as it undermines the progress made towards gender equality.

The Stevenses from ‘Bewitched’

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‘Bewitched’ follows the story of a witch named Samantha Stevens who is trying to live an everyday life with her mortal or human husband, Dorrin. The show soon captured the heart of its audience because it depicts Samantha as obedient to her husband’s wishes despite her supernatural powers. This mindset might be criticized by many in today’s generation for promoting the idea that women should forget about their abilities to adhere to the societal norms set regarding marriage and family life.

The Buchanans from ‘Maude’

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Maude Findlay was a progressive and outspoken woman, and the show, ‘Maude’, revolved around her interactions with her conservative husband, Walter Buchanan. The show was praised for tackling issues like women’s rights and mental health, but the depiction of Maude’s character in today’s time could be seen as promoting the “angry feminist” stereotype.

The Owens from ‘One Day at a Time’

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Another show, ‘One Day at a Time,’ showed the life of a single divorced mother, Ann Romano, who was raising her two daughters. While it was considered progressive for featuring a single mother as the protagonist, Ann’s character sometimes also came under the women trope who ‘hate men’ and perpetuated stereotypes regarding the same. People might argue that her struggles with men and her strong and independent attitude might portray a negative view of men in today’s time.

The Corleones from ‘The Odd Couple’

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As the name suggests, two mismatched roommates, Felix Unger and Oscar Madison and ‘The Odd Couple’ didn’t follow traditional relationship dynamics. Felix was the neat, fussy one, while Oscar was the messy, carefree bachelor. Both were men and portraying a gay relationship on television was a daring step at that time. However, the stereotypes about masculinity and domesticity, which suggest only two types of men, either overly meticulous or completely careless, could raise problems in today’s time.

The Ingalls from ‘Little House on the Prairie’

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The show, ‘Little House on the Prairie,’ was based on the books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder and showed the wholesome and original life of the Ingalls family. The watchers appreciated it for portraying family values in a relatable way, but it also depicted some things that might be problematic in today’s time. The representation of Native Americans and African Americans was stereotypical, which might reflect the racial attitude of that time, and sometimes it also perpetuated the incidents where it failed to address the injustices faced by marginalized groups.

The Douglases from ‘My Three Sons’

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Steve Douglas was a widowed father who had to raise three sons. While people at that time praised the show for portraying a single father, it might receive criticism in today’s generation for giving women secondary roles who are limited to domestic duties. The female characters lacked a sense of strength and independence, which put more emphasis on traditional gender roles, which would be criticized for undermining the capabilities of the women.

The Kaniskys from ‘The Tony Randall Show’

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In this 1970s sitcom, ‘The Tony Randall Show,’ Tony Randall played the role of Judge Walter Franklin, who was a single father raising two children. And with this, there was also a character of the Judge’s secretary, Miss Reubner. She was an overly dedicated female assistant whose life only revolved around her male boss, who rarely depicted her aspirations. People argue that even though it gives a good view of single parenthood, the limited view of women’s roles in the workplace and lack of personal life is a problem.

The Clampetts from ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’

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‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ revolved around the life of the Clampett family, who recently moved to Beverly Hills after striking oil in their rural homeland. The show heavily depicted stereotypes regarding the lives of people living in rural areas and the ‘hilly’ culture, which portrayed the Clampett family as straightforward and unsophisticated compared to their wealthy and urban neighbors. Such portrayals, which show rural people are inherently backward or ignorant, might sit well with today’s audience.

The Ropers from ‘Three’s Company’

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Stanley and Helen Roper were the main characters of Three’s Company and played landlords. The show depicted Stanley as a frustrated and clumsy man, and Helen was his nagging wife. It perpetuated negative stereotypes about marriage and gender roles, and their relationship might be criticized today for reinforcing harmful stereotypes about men and women in marriage.

The Drummonds from ‘Diff’rent Strokes’

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The story of ‘Diff’rent Strokes’ revolved around a wealthy white man named ‘Philip Drummond’ who decided to adopt two African American boys, Arnold and Willis. The show was intentionally made to tackle social issues related to racism and promote abolishing such practices. However, it often portrayed many incidents in a way that reinforced white savior tropes. Mr. Drummond was portrayed as a generous man, and the boys were shown as children needing rescue and guidance from a white father figure. This depiction might receive heavy criticism in today’s time for spreading stereotypes and failing to present a more balanced view of interracial adoption.

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