The Changing Modern Family

The definition of a “modern family” changes constantly, given that the definition of “modern” is constantly changing to hold true to current standards. I would classify a modern family as a family who lives in the present day and follows the standard, conventional, yet relatively unspoken rules of familial life. Those unspoken rules include many things including getting married. I think this “rule” is particularly interesting because it’s this institution that we still have today in America (and most places around the world) that exists in all modern families, yet there are plenty of people in non-married relationships who would consider themselves a “family” but are not defined as such by modern culture. Furthermore, although gay marriage is now legal, the most accepted form of gay marriage is still between two cis white men. The idea of a gay marriage between anyone that doesn’t fit that model is still not normalized by many people in society.

The “modern family” has changed a lot over the recent years. I would argue that having kids was an essential part of the modern family about 20+ years ago. Now, it is very common for couples to not have kids or to only have one or adopt. It is also common now to wait a while before having kids. Also, now in America, a modern family can be very diverse.

The 50s TV show I Love Lucy actually pioneered some of these ideas of a modern family before they were generally accepted. For instance, Lucy didn’t have her first child until she was almost 40, which was very late for the 50s. Also, she was in an interracial relationship on public television before that was a more common occurrence. However, despite being more progressive in those aspects, I Love Lucy still harbors some fundamental outdated aspects of a modern family from the 1950s. Lucy and Ricky were married, and as the husband of the household, Ricky worked, while Lucy stayed at home with her child and the chores. There was even an episode where Lucy and Ricky purposefully switched places for the day, resulting in Lucy’s job going horribly wrong and Ricky burning all of the laundry with an iron. Episodes like this one really solidified the concept of how a family should be in this time period.

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