My wife and I have talked before about which TV parents we are most similar to. We quickly decided that Jason and Maggie Seaver, of the 1980s sitcom Growing Pains (1985-1992), best represent us.
It seems like most TV sitcoms of the 1980s revolved around some kind of amendment to the traditional nuclear family.
Like a wise-cracking alien joining the Tanner house on Alf. Or Uncle Jesse and Joey joining the Tanner House on Full House. And don’t forget how neighbor Steve Urkle basically lived with the Winslows.
But with Growing Pains, there was a nuclear family in which the parents loved each other, and unlike most sitcoms since the 1980s, the dad wasn’t an idiot.
Plus, there was no outsider who is adopted into the family; unless you count the final season in which Leonardo DiCaprio joined the cast, but I figure most of us had stopped watching by that point.
The parents were intelligent, hard-working, and sensitive to the children’s psychological needs. Though that sounds like a pretty normal thing to feature on a family sitcom, it’s not.
Writers on sitcoms often can’t handle a happily married couple with kids. If nothing else, the writers have to kill off one of the parents.
Danny Tanner’s wife died after a drunk driver hit her, on Full House.
Then DJ’s husband died while fighting fires, on Fuller House.
And then if both parents are still alive, the dad is by default, an idiot: Homer Simpson on The Simpsons, Al Bundy on Married with Children, Carl Winslow on Family Matters, Tim Allen on Home Improvement…
I would actually argue that the Seavers were actually the most normal, life-like family in the past 30 years, in a sitcom. That’s the simple reason that I believe that Jason Seaver best represents me as a TV dad, and Maggie Seaver represents my wife.
Below is a related flow-chart asking, “Which T.V. Mom are you?”
(Because I fully recognize that the majority of the readers of my blog are not male, but instead female.)
Thanks to Berries.com for this graphic.