An interesting phenomenon is taking over American television, and it’s about time. More and more, television finally mirrors what many of us see and experience every day, and that is the diversity of the modern day American family.
This is the first of a two-part discussion on FAITH and it being the final in my six-week series to your best year ever. Faith largely comes from the perspective of who we think we are, our backgrounds and our heritage. Sometimes it’s influenced by where we live, lessons our families teach and what we see in our communities.
The Changing Landscape
This influence is highlighted in a fairly new, multiple-Emmy-winning hit ABC Network sitcom called Modern Family. Stars of the show include Columbian beauty Sofia Vergara and Married With ChildrenAlum Ed O’Neil as the head of a non-conformist American family that features O’Neil and Vergara as inter-cultural May-December spouses raising her pre-teen son. The family tree also includes a same-sex male couple with an adopted Vietnamese daughter and the representative traditional couple complete with uptight suburban stay-at-home mom, wacky dad and three stereotypical kids (including one eye-rolling teen girl). Diverse doesn’t begin to describe the family dynamics, let alone the ensuing antics that involve not just personal differences, but cultural, age and community differences as well.
Good Morning America (also on ABC) was so intrigued with the show’s popularity that show hosts spent this entire week showcasing real, modern American families each day. From the Mexican American who came to the U.S. a century ago and now has descendants of Asian, African-American and Anglo ancestry, to the blue-eyed blonde who married a Philippine man three decades her senior (and younger than her mother!), GMA is showing the pride and the varied traditions of those in our country today.
An Age of Open-Mindedness
Blended families, inter-cultural families, mixed-race families, age differences, faith differences, the list goes on, and more and more, it’s becoming the norm. So what does this mean?
In an age where we still see 1960s-esque segregation — (I recently learned from the first African-American Mayor of Selma Alabama that Jim Crow is alive and well in the South and around the country – but not as a legal edict, now it’s just a cultural norm.) – could what’s deemed the American melting pot actually be coming true? Yes, yes, for centuries different people with varied cultures have come to the United States in the name of freedom, and capitalism, but we’ve more been like diverse cheeses, melding our ancestry, culture and attitudes atop one another than the stew that pulls the best flavor from its ingredients to make a mouth-watering dish. Television often lags behind culture by a decade or two, so the fact that shows like Modern Family, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, andOff the Map highlight this diversity means there’s been an obvious shift in our thinking as a nation. We’re finally and truly accepting each other’s differences, and gaining a greater appreciation for people who may not look, act, or think like we expect.
Though there’s a long way to go, shows like these give hope that we are becoming a kinder, gentler nation. And rather than seem weaker, we’re stronger for it.