Friday, January 25, 2019

Fred MacMurray and The Beaver

I saw a picture of Bozo on Facebook last week, and I realized I'd forgotten the ruffle around the bottom of his pants.  He wasn't on my regular watching schedule in my childhood; I was more into Captain Kangaroo and Miss Nancy on Romper Room.  But TBG and I spent a week in 1983 on St. Maarten with WGN as the only television option.  Bozo woke us up every morning.

TBG's been taping Leave It To Beaver and My Three Sons; it's lovely background noise as we're getting ready to leave the house.  The teachers are female and young and kind and white.  The families are intact and middle class and white. Mom makes sandwiches on white bread.

The Beaver is still adorable, making the mistakes a sweet elementary school boy makes, then and now.  There's a lot of wisdom in his interactions with Wally, his big brother, that we find lacking in those with his father.  Ward just seems to exacerbate the situation, while June wrings her hands and hopes everything will turn out all right. 

I never watched My Three Sons, but I love Fred MacMurray and William Frawley.  Every time I see him with an apron in one hand and a fist in the other, I smile.  I love the notion of Grampa stepping in to take his dead daughter's place; he's modeling being a strong female figure to a house full of boys. 

And when I had that thought I realized that I was watching mid-20th century television through 21st century eyes.  The fillips were minor, nothing jumped up and said oh, dear, not that.  But I had to turn off Gone With the Wind because I couldn't watch happy slaves, and we've cringed and stopped watching more than a few old movies when the violence against women made us gag.

Molly Ringwald urges viewers not to throw the baby out with the bath water.  She has a point; I was taught Birth of a Nation at Cornell.  But I still can't have Kevin Spacey in my living room.

I'm not sure what secrets lie behind the boys in those houses.  I'm not sure I want to.

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