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What do Sofia Vergara, Homer Simpson, and Peter Griffin Have in Common?

Mister Trouble never hangs around
When he hears this mighty sound
"Here I come to save the day!"
 That means that Mighty Mouse is on the way!

That was the opening verse to the theme song of my favorite cartoon Mighty Mouse. I liked Popeye and Underdog too. I watched shows on a black and white TV back in the ‘60s and some of my other non-cartoon favorites included The Andy Griffith Show, Leave It to Beaver, Father Knows Best, and My Three Sons. These types of shows dominated programming and their common theme was family.

Andy Taylor always had time to do some “splainin” of life’s dilemmas to his young son Opie (Ron Howard). Ward Cleaver did the same with his son Theodore (Beaver) and in the privacy of his home library. Weekly television shows were attempting to define the Perfect American family and with dad at the center and mom in the supporting role, it seemed to be working. 

Modern TV hasn’t been as flattering to the American family and its dads. See Homer Simpson (The Simpsons 1989-) and Peter Griffin (Family Guy 1999-), these guys are full-fledged buffoons and their families are highly dysfunctional, maybe as a result. It’s definitely funny stuff, but the message was that average American families are dysfunctional and watching them trip over themselves made for good entertainment. 

Certainly, Mom’s TV role in the American family has changed and is much more than supporting, and the entertainment industry has been consistently moving away from the '60s portrayal of the Perfect American Family, realizing it was a myth that no one was buying into. 

Roseanne (1988-1997) and That '70s Show(1998-2006), were two sitcoms that portrayed working-class families and their daily dilemmas in a more realistic "in your kitchen" kind of way that American families could relate to. 

Actor Ed O’Neill made an incredible transition from one of America’s first dysfunctional families in Married with Children (1987-’97) to one of America’s most popular progressive families in Modern Family (2009-2020). In both sitcoms his TV characters were ground-breaking, first as misogynistic, struggling shoe salesman Al Bundy who gets little respect from his lazy, frustrated wife Peggy (Katey Sagal) and their two combative kids, Kelly and Bud, to financially secure 60-year-old Jay Pritchett, whose second wife Gloria (Sofia Vergara) is a young, sexy, Columbian bombshell. 

When Gloria became pregnant, the couple’s extended family, which included Pritchett’s son Mitchell from his first marriage, his husband Cameron, and their adopted Vietnamese daughter (Lily Tucker-Pritchett), were totally supportive.

60's TV dads Andy Taylor and Ward Cleaver were fictional characters and their calm demeanors were far-fetched and unrealistic. It took a while, but Hollywood has finally gotten it right; on average, American families are dysfunctional. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing, in fact, it's become the "new normal".

The idea that a caped mouse could fly and be a superhero… Well, it was believable to many wide-eyed kids back in the 60s and I was certainly one of them.

Here goes, one more time for those of us whose inner child still yearns to believe…

(Jim Carrey as Andy Kaufman as Mighty Mouse)