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‘Speechless’ & 17 other shows that prove family sitcoms have changed for the better

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.

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