Television series about family dynamics still matter


We are considered living in the new golden age of television. Shows such as “House of Cards,” “Game of Thrones,” “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad,” “True Detective,” and others, have made television more exciting.

Today’s television shows are transformative in captivating the audience’s imagination to gripping stories revolving around politics, drug-dealing, sex, violence, crime and even advertising.

Why then this fascination with the family genre? In a time when television focuses so much on larger-than-life renditions of the human condition, why do family-focused shows continue to prevail?

Truth is stranger than fiction. Television sitcom, the only genre that has not fully undergone a transformation,  still mainly revolves around family situations and dynamics. Some of the greatest television series of all time revolve around family issues: Shows such as “The Brady Bunch,” “The Cosby Show,” “All in the Family” and others were groundbreaking shows in capturing regular life and confronting difficult yet common problems.

Real life is beautiful, and people are more attracted to stories that deal with everyday, relatable issues. This is why shows like “All in the Family” are still relatable in the current decade.  

The definition of family has become fluid over the years, but television portrayals of family values remain the same. Television series such as “The Bernie Mac Show,” “The Sopranos,” “Black-ish,” “Fresh Off the Boat” and “Modern Family” presented issues and conversations on race, social class, sexuality and moral standards, and shaped the popular understanding of the modern family. But not much has changed in terms of communicating messages of loyalty, friendship, commitment and simply doing the right thing. These underlying family dynamic issues are the basis as to why family television series are so popular: It’s realistically relatable to our own lives and our own families.

Television series about families still matter in our society today. Though the definition of family may have changed, the dynamic still stays the same. Family-themed television shows discuss the significance of themes relating to friendships, personal relationships, family bonds and marriage — issues that we can all relate to and comprehend. Television series relating to family still matter, because they discuss the issues that matter.

Chen is an international relations and global studies senior from Galveston. Follow him on Twitter @ZhelunC.