Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Forgotten TV: THE DONNA REED SHOW
I was watching an episode of THE GILMORE GIRLS the other day (I never saw it when it aired) and much of the episode dealt with the life style portrayed on THE DONNA REED SHOW. Rory and her mother had fun making up dialog mocking the show, but Rory's boyfriend couldn't see what was wrong with a mother devoting herself (voluntarily) to caring for her family. They managed to reach a rapprochement by the end of the episode when Rory did some research and found out that Reed was actually actively involved in producing the show. Not sure why this let her off the hook but it did.
I certainly watched Donna Reed for all the years it was on-late fifties through mid-sixties. Donna, Alex, Mary and Jeff were a touchstone just as the family on LEAVE IT TO BEAVER and FATHER KNOWS BEST was. Even at the time, the women seemed too well-dressed for housewives but I think the producers believed that women didn't want to see TV women dressed in less glamorous clothing. The plots were simple, gentle, and unrealistic but TV didn't really know how to do anything else. No one was poor, plain or troubled. Reality was better served by movies. Now it has almost reversed itself. But perhaps spending a half hour watching small problems get swiftly solved wasn't the worse thing in the world. Some complained that it made their own lives seem unfulfilling but I just took it as the same sort of fantasy offered in most kids' books of the time. A palliative.