Father Knows Best started on radio in 1949 and ran until 1954, at which time it moved to network television, where it aired from 1954 till 1960. The series is an icon of American pop culture.
The series starred Robert Young as Jim Anderson, the patriarch of a stereotypical middle class family in the Midwest. His wife Margaret was played by Jane Wyatt. The teenage daughter Betty was played by Elinor Donahue, her younger brother Bud by Billy Gray and the little sister Kathy by Lauren Chapin.
Interestingly, the show was cancelled at the end of the first season, but NBC received so many letters demanding its return that the series was reinstated. The show revolved around the premise that no matter what dilemma the family faced or what opinion the common-sense mother had about a solution, father was always right...because he knew best. And by the end of each episode, life was once more idyllic as a result of father's wisdom.
In 1983 Billy Gray said in an interview, "I wish there was some way I could tell the kids not to believe it. The dialogue, the situations, the characters...they were all totally false. The show did everyone a disservice. The girls were always trained to use their feminine wiles, to pretend to be helpless to attract men. The show contributed to a lot of the problems between men and women that we see today...I think we were all well motivated, but what we did was run a hoax. Father Knows Best purported to be a reasonable facsimile of life. And the bad thing is, the model is so deceitful."
What do you think? Did this sort of entertainment provide positive role models, or did it depict life in such a way that it caused people to have unrealistic attitudes about their own interactions with others?