Where have all the good TV role models gone?

Raye - posted on 11/07/2014 ( 7 moms have responded )

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Why are TV shows these days so horrible. There are no good role-models. All the "family" shows are all about disfunction. While that may help make your family feel normal, like yours isn't the only dysfunctional family out there, it doesn't give you anything to aspire to. Okay, so not all families can be the Seever's or Huxtable's and we know problems can't all be solved in 30 minutes, but shouldn't there be something to show kids that life doesn't have to be Honey Boo Boo trash. It seems like now it's all sex and lies and shows with no socially redeeming value. It just makes it ok to be screwed up and allows for the downward spiral of morality that seems to be the trend these days. Maybe I'm just old fashioned. I'm only 38, but I remember it used to be better than this.

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Chet - posted on 11/08/2014

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I agree. It's very surprising what some kids are watching. I know 7 and 8 year olds who watch The Walking Dead.

What I find interesting too is that there doesn't seem to be much middle ground. Kids today are either watching very limited TV that's fairly high quality, or they're watching anything and everything.

TV has really changed in the last fifteen, or maybe twenty years though. It used to be that families had one main TV and a significant percentage of programs were developed under the assumption that all ages would be watching together. If you go back and watch old shows like Knight Rider or The Dukes of Hazard or the Cosby Show or Home Improvement they were very obviously trying to target an audience that would include kids as young as 6 or 8 right up to grandparents.

I think that now, people assume that the kids will be watching kids channels and adults will be watching grown up channels. Punky Brewster would never run on a major network now. Today a show like that would be developed just for kids and it would air on a children's channel.

And like I said in my other posts, I think the broadcast networks are feeling a lot of pressure to compete with the over the top cable shows like Sons of Anarchy or The Walking Dead.

All that said, this isn't a completely new issue. I remember parents in the 80s letting 7 and 8 year olds watch V, or Jaws, or Nightmare on Elm Street.

We've been pretty lucky that although our kids know kids who consume huge volumes of junky TV, or TV that's not meant for children at all, their closest friends have similar viewing habits. They also really like the shows and the movies that they do watch, and recognize that they get scared easily and don't want to watch things that are scary. They aren't asking for the junk, they're asking for the shows we've introduced them to. I'm hoping that when they're a little older and have access to junk they won't have a taste for it because they're so used to stuff that's decent quality.

My deep dark secret though is that our kids speak French and myself and my husband don't. Our kids do watch a lot of kids shows in French and while they are kids shows, I have no idea how good they are! And I know that culturally certain things are considered acceptable for kids here that would not be considered okay elsewhere (children's and family movies often get different ratings here). I'm not hugely concerned, but often joke with DH that this show could be the French equivalent of Sponge Bob. :-)

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Crystal - posted on 11/10/2014

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I completely agree (although I have to admit that I and my child have watched every episode of Honey Boo Boo), but yes.

It is merely a reflection of our current North American culture, just as it was a reflection of our culture in the 80's to have the diffently themed shows that we had back then.

In my opinion, tv "programming" is called so for a reason...
The dollar speaks, and what people want to spend their dollars on is decided by what they think they want and need. We are greatly influenced by advertising which is done throughout the tv "programs", not just in the 30 second commercials inbetween segments of "programming".

Alast our world is ever changing, and the one thing I enjoy are cheesy reruns of Full House and Golden Girls. I even appreciate I love lucy and Leave it to Beaver. But even those times had their flaws. Think of Saved By the Bell for example, that was pretty edgy for the times with some of their subject manner, and Roseanne, that was another edgy show for the era, I do believe they were depicted as fairly dysfunctional.

It's never really all good when it comes to any type of programming. So I just watch the shows I like only and I sit tight and wait because I believe that in 20 years from now, the TV will just be a giant computer screen anyway. And by that point the shows will be a reflection of whatever times we are in. And hopefull scoiety will be at an even better place.

Ev - posted on 11/08/2014

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You could also go to your local library and look at their DVD collection that they allow to be checked out and find things you want to have your kids watch. A lot of old stuff is on DVD now and can be found at the library. They have a lot of choices. Even the old movies from the 30's, to the 80's are available if you know what to look for.

Raye - posted on 11/08/2014

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I don't rely on TV for role models. We watch very little TV, and what we do watch are shows like Mythbusters, How It's Made, science channel, Alton Brown, some Nick and TV Land, etc. but the kids' friends seem to all be watching garbage, and so they ask us to watch things we think are too mature for their ages or are just plain stupid rot-your-brain type stuff.

I guess it should have been more of a rant on parents that let their young kids watch inappropriate television.

Chet - posted on 11/07/2014

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I'll add too that I think the big networks feel like they need to compete with the cable shows like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. I've been really surprised about some of the stuff that airs on prime time now from major broadcast networks. We've been watching Gotham (when the kids are in bed) It's on broadcast television at 9pm, and I'm surprised at how graphic and dark it is. It feels like a cable show.

Chet - posted on 11/07/2014

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There are still shows like you remember. You might need to look at the Disney Channel or ABC Family though, not television from the major networks. Girl Meets World on the Disney Channel is a spin off of Boy Meets World from the 90s with Cory and Topanga grown up and with their own kids now.

TV also goes through cycles. There was a time when dramas were huge, then it was all sitcoms, then it was prime time games shows, and then reality TV. I think that today families are watching shows like Cake Boss, Dancing with the Stars, America's Got Talent, and Myth Busters together, rather than sitcoms.

Also those old shows are still airing. They're on channels like TV Land, Nick at Nite, Retro TV, Hallmark Channel, etc.

And of course, there are lots of old shows on services like Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime if you want to dig them up. Our kids love classic Mr. Rogers and Leave it to Beaver. They laugh until they cry at Leave it Beaver, and I actually thought they've refuse to watch it because it's black and white.

Jodi - posted on 11/07/2014

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I personally don't rely on TV to provide good role modelling to my children. Role modelling has to come from the home - that is where most of a child's ideals about life will come from.

I'm also not sure what you mean by downward spiral of morality, but it is no more a trend now than it always was. Kids were always having sex, demonstrating sexualised behaviour, etc. It's just more in your face now because of social media.

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