Progression or Regression?

Leave it to Beaver, aired from 1957to 1963 is another family comedy, depicts an elementary school child, nicknamed Beaver and his family. Like, Lucy, Beaver often gets himself into difficulties of his own making. From one show to the next, June Cleaver, his mother, almost seems like furniture in the family home. Her only role seems to be as the supportive wife and mother, always immaculate in her perfectly coiffed hair, shirtwaist dress and pearls, there to support both her husband Ward and the Beaver in their jams while she cooks, cleans and stands second to the family she is a part of. When one of the sons needs discipline, Ward Cleaver will often say, “…Step into my study, son!” June Cleaver is someone’s idea of the perfect wife and mother; with no life of her own, no dreams, no direction.[1]


Bewitched aired from 1964 to 1972 and is another family comedy, which appears to place a different spin on things.[2] Instead of an ordinary nuclear family, the beautiful wife Samantha is a witch and Darrin the husband a mortal man. He is unaware of her powers prior to their marriage, but on their wedding night Samantha confesses her secret powers, and Darrin forbids her from using them; he wants her to act like a normal mortal wife.[3] The husband has a strong authority telling his wife she cannot use her magic that she was born with. Even the title is inferring the husband’s role in the television show the name “bewitched” is referring to what the husbands feeling are towards his witch wife. Samantha’s attire shows the progression of the clothing during the 60s and early 70s. She wears short dresses and shirts, but pants are not commonly in her wardrobe.[4]  In one episode Samantha’s mother comes to visit trying to convince her to return the magic world, Samantha says “I happen to think cooking on a stove is a lot more fun than using witchcraft… and I also enjoy taking care of my husband and children in the everyday mortal way.”[5] This shows the societal norms and what the average mortal women is supposed to like to do.