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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The series reflects the values of the era, which reinforces patriarchal gender roles, as well as ideas like patriotism, hard work, respect for elders, and the importance of family.
Positive Role Models
The Cleavers are a stereotypical white middle-class suburban '50s family who get along well (too well, some might argue). Ward works, June stays at home, and the kids go to school, play with friends, and date. Eddie Haskell is often a questionable influence on the boys. Minorities are absent.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Wally likes and dates girls. Very benign flirty behavior.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Episode about alcoholism.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this classic, squeaky-clean 1950s sitcom is an icon of American pop culture. Although it's certainly dated in look and dialogue, many of its themes about growing up, sibling rivalry, social adjustment, and parent-kid relationships are still pertinent today. That said, the fact remains that it's a very isolated look at a white, American suburban middle-class family. Today's savvy school-aged kids may find it unrealistic, simple, or boring (the black-and-white cinematography alone will probably be enough to turn a lot of them off).
Is It Any Good?
Who doesn't respond to LEAVE IT TO BEAVER? It's post-war Americana at its prime and has had a huge following (perhaps even more than when in first aired in the late '50s and early '60s) for decades. Even today, the latest generation is getting to know and love the Beave, Wally, Eddie Haskell, thanks to syndication. At its core, Leave It to Beaver focuses on issues related to growing up and family relationships. While older kids may quickly tire of this clichéd family and their predicable plot lines, younger school-aged kids will probably relate to a lot of the storylines and may also enjoy getting a peek at the life in the late '50s -- the cars, the dress, even the dialogue.
The most obvious objection to Leave It to Beaver is that it represents the less-admirable values of its era along with the good stuff. The characters are almost uniformly white and well-off, and '50s gender stereotypes are out in full force: Ward works, and June stays home to take care of house and kids. That said, Ward does acquiesce to June and treat her as a partner in raising the boys; look past her pearls, dress, heels, and lipstick and you'll find a strong role model, decision maker, and problem solver.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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