Friday, March 20, 2009

Discussion Question

I wrote about Friends and the verity of family structures and relationships that were shown on the show. My question is what is missing. What kind of families are not being shown in the media. How does this make you feel. Or do you think that everyone can find a family like theirs somewhere in the media. 


  1. To answer Justine's question:

    Yes, it is true that some forms of families are not shown in the media. Although there are more references and characters that are gay in the media there are still not many families with gay members shown on TV. I do not think that it is right that these families are left out. I think that that all forms of families should be portrayed on TV so that all types of families are equally accepted and considered "normal" in society. Since the media plays such a big part of setting the rules for children and for adults on what is acceptable in society I think, it is important that they are inclusive in showing all kinds of families. This would make it easier for everyone to accept each other's differences and celebrate them. When children are growing up with two dads for example watch TV now they might feel like their family is strange or not accepted since there are not any examples of this type of family on TV and there need to be so that everyone(every family) feels accepted no matter what kind of family they have.

    -Taylor Faulkner

  2. I agree with Taylor about the lack of gay people included in families portrayed in the media. In particular, gay male couples with children seem to be missing from the media, particularly television. The media is an agent of socialization; we often unconsciously internalize what we see on television as the norm. Therefore, by largely excluding gay characters from families on television shows, those controlling the media are sending the message to their viewers that being gay, particularly being gay and having a partner and children, is not acceptable in our society.

    Another type of family that, as far as I know, is not typically featured on television shows is a family consisting of a married couple who does not want to have children. There are many rational reasons that a couple may choose not to have a child, including not being financially and/or emotionally prepared. However, none of these reasons are widely accepted due to the predominating pronatalism in our society. In fact, the exclusion of this type of a family in the media reflects the United States’ pronatalistic attitude. In our society, it is expected that the next step after marriage is children, so it is very rare to see a couple on television who is childless by choice.

    There are many other types of families that, to the best of my knowledge, are not often the focus of television shows, such as single fathers, low-income families, and homeless families. The types of families that the media chooses to feature are noticed by all. Those whose families are typically not the center of television shows may feel excluded and may even develop a negative self-image. Children, especially, may feel that there is something wrong with their family and may feel ashamed of their family. Excluding specific types of families is destructive to all members of our society. Hopefully, if families, who are often deemed unworthy of media attention, are featured on a number of shows, then people will see that despite the structural differences in these various families, they all share similarities and are worthy of respect and equal media coverage.

    - Amy Diamond

  3. Thank you Amy and Taylor for responding. I agree with both of you completely. I also believe that families where the parents have been married multiple times and have children with each marriage are becoming more common in reality but not in the media. You also don't see many inter racial or cultural families portrayed or ones where for what ever reason the one of the siblings is raising a family.

    I believe the media should represent all kinds of families and show them all in a good light and maybe even have there characters talk about controversial topics so that opinions can be expressed and questions can be brought up that people may not feel comfortable asking. I feel that this would help normalize all kinds of families and it would not harm the other kinds.

    I don't believe the media is likely to change. There will be controversy and people might put up a fight so what we as individuals can do is look for shows or films or adds that show the values and a verity of families then maybe we can make them more popular and educate the public.

  4. I believe that families today in the media are portrayed as the "perfect families"...but not every one is. For example, in friends, they portrayed a family like Ross's that was very unique and had many dynamics to it.

    A show I frequently watch is Secret Life of the American Teenager, which goes in depth about teenage pregnancy. Along with the pregnancy, the protagonist's parents are getting a divorce. This is also a very unique situation.

    I think with time the media is slowly changing and accepting new ideas. In the 1950's a televised show on teenage pregnancy and divorce would not be accepted. Society is changing little by little by the decade.

    -Rachel Badger