The American family has been reflected in television sitcoms for the last seven decades. The very first situation comedy was Mary Kay and Johnny, about real-life married couple John Stearns and his zany, unpredictable wife, Mary Kay Stearns. After its debut in 1947 on the DuMont Television Network, many other sitcoms, like I Love Lucy, followed the same format.
But at a certain point, as television viewership grew, audiences craved more diversity in their TV families. America is a melting pot, and viewers wanted the characters and storylines they saw on TV to reflect their own families and experiences, not just the white, upper-class, heterosexual one.
Today we’re seeing a lot more diversity on the small screen. From a Taiwanese family to a show about a teen with cerebral palsy, sitcoms are starting to look more like the real America. But that doesn’t mean TV sitcoms are completely inclusive — yet. Could we see a sitcom about a Native American or a family dealing with autism one day? We hope so.
This slideshow takes a look at the evolution of sitcoms and how they’ve adapted to a changing America over the years.