Thanks(?) to TVLand, I get to see the “classic” 60’s sitcom, “Gidget”, starring the then-adorable Sally Field. As with other shows of that time period, it’s seems that teens lived an idyllic life. The only horrible things they had to deal with were homework and not finding a date for the dance (except Gidget, of course, who ends up with three dates).
Of course, realism was never an issue with TV until the past few years, but geez!
How did teens of that era feel about the portrayal of their TV counterparts?
Side note: in the opening credit sequence of “Gidget”, you see Sally in a series posed photos. NOT flattering.
Side Note 2: I am still amazed that “The Flying Nun” lasted three years.
I was a teen in the 70’s, not 60’s. But maybe this fits for then, too.
We used TV for entertainment and the news. If it wasn’t news, it better entertain us. Then All In The Family came along and mixed entertainment and social commentary. (Was it the pioneer I’m remembering it to be?)
(I liked The Flying Nun)
The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis was the first show to have a non-idyllic family on television. The father - who actually had an identifiable, working class job unlike Ozzie Nelson - was always turning to the camera and saying, “I gotta kill that boy. I just gotta.” The son was lazy and kept ducking out of school and work. (This is beginning to sound a bit like the Simpsons.) The teachers loved their work but hated their students, who wanted to hear nothing other than the bell for the end of the class. Dobie’s best friend, the transcendent Maynard G. Krebs (the G. stood for Walter), was into music, real music, jazz names who wouldn’t reappear on any tv show for decades. And Zelda was the first really brainy female.
Dobie was a favorite of everyone I knew, although we weren’t quite teenagers yet. It was the only real show about family life on tv.
But there just weren’t that many shows with teens that I remember. Most shows with kids had pre-teens. I did like the Patty Duke Show, with Patty as “identical twins.” Never watched Gidget or The Flying Nun. My Three Sons had some teens but the show wasn’t really about them. And that’s about it.
Of course, by 1966 we had the Monkees, who weren’t technically teenagers, but were the first show ever to have kids living by themselves without a parent figure. For all the jokes made about them since, the music was terrific, the show was funny, and the ratings were pretty good too. It even won the Emmy as Best Comedy. They keep talking about bringing it back, but it can never be done again.
There wasn’t really a teen culture in those days outside of music. Nobody expected to see real teens on tv. That’s one of the things that made the Monkees so significant. It was the beginning of the change in everything.
I was a teenager in the 60s. No one really thought the teens on TV were a portrayal of real teens, or that any comedy was about real people. We were under the odd impression that these were works of what was called at the time fiction, and as such they were exaggerating traits for comic effect and were not attempting to portray reality.
What RealityCheck said. Nobody knew anyone who did housework in high heels and pearls. The “dancing at the malt shop” never happened.
After all, nobody on the TV shows even had a TV! Or a bathroom! Married people slept in separate beds. There were children in every family, but there were never any pregnant women. Or black people, with the rare exception of a maid. Certainly no Spanish people. The only Asian anybody saw on TV was Charlie Chan. Nobdy ever got divorced.
The Ricardos had a TV, so did the Nelsons and the Bradys. The Cleavers, the Nashes (Please Don’t Eat the Daisies), and the Bradys definitely had bathrooms. Mike and Carol Brady shared the same bed, so did Herman and Lily Munster. Lucy Ricardo got famously pregnant, so did Agent 99.
As to what we thought of teenagers and adolescents portrayed on television, I remember that even at the time the series first aired, we noticed how dated or off the interests and slang of young people were as portrayed on The Brady Bunch, the result of clueless 30- and 40-something writers and directors.
To put All in the Family in an even better light, I don’t think there’s any way in the world it could be proposed as a sitcom circa 2003. Not one chance. A bigoted, racial-slur-spewing protagonist? It wouldn’t even come out of development. The potential lawsuits alone would keep it off the air.
As a teenager of the 60s, I feel pretty confident that the only thing we related to was whether that particular sitcom star was cute or not.
As Exapmo points out, there weren’t that many shows that were specifically oriented to teenagers. There were lots of shows that had a teenaged member of the family (Father Knows Best even had two) but teeneagers as a group weren’t worth worth programming to until the mid 1960s (remember, the Baby Boom started in 1946). That was the era of Hullabaloo and Shindig (music shows), Patty Duke and Gidget.
I have heard that Bill Gray (Bud from Father Knows Best) absolutely hated the image that show portrayed, with an ideal family that never had a serious problem. But frankly, it never bothered me that my parents, my big sister and my friends didn’t measure up to the characters in the TV shows. Frankly, the only character I could ever measure up to was Beaver Cleaver.
And Sally Field might have been adorable but she was no match for any of the Bradley sisters from Petticoat Junction.
Friends w/Paul Peterson, Donna Reeds’ son," brother" of Shelley Fabares. He told me the show was great fun to do & that Reed(forget her real name) & Carl Belz, father, were just as nice off air as on. He even had his real life sister play his sister on the show one year. I guess he had the best of both worlds-played a 60’s teen, Jeff Stone, & got paid well for it.