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Television and the Family

Television and the Family

"American Experience: TV's Most-watched." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2014.

"One Family in Seven Now has Television"

C.E. Butterfield. 1950. "One Family in Seven Now has Television." The Washington Post (1923-1954), Jun 07, 1.

The rise of television became central to American culture partially due to the increase in families. This rise coupled with the increase in national income created the desire for accessible entertainment for the entire family. Television offered a source of relatively inexpensive entertainment that everyone in the family could enjoy. The ideal American family featured men as the breadwinner, women as homemakers, and several children living in a suburban home with lots of commodities including television sets. The house and commodity boom had "tremendous propaganda value, for it was those affluent homes, complete with consumer goods, that provided evidence of the superiority of the American way of life " (May 343). As Cold War tensions rose, the family looked inward and found comfort within the home, and television provided an escape for families during this period of impending doom. Families would not have to leave the house for entertainment. Purchasing habits of the 1950s portrayed a national pattern: "personal extravagance was rare, but consumption for family enrichment was a high priority. They exhibited a desire for consumer goods combined with a concern for future financial security” (May 345). The Cold War consumer consensus made investing in commodities such as televisions an enhancement for family life and promoted the national economy. Families discovered security during this frightening and uncertain period within the home and bought consumer goods like televisions to make them feel in control. This solidified the home as an escape from rising international tensions and legitimized that the family was the source of comfort during fearful times. By purchasing televisions, families were not only satisfying personal desires but also promoting their country making the United States a stronger force against communism.