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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

All in the Family vs The Secret Life of the American Teenager

The sitcoms I chose to compare are “All in the Family” and “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”. These two shows are so far apart it is funny. One of the main cultural differences immediately noticeable is the fact that a teenager has a baby in Secret Life, but on All in the Family; sex was a taboo subject. It was private and not to be discussed openly.

The Secret Life cast is comprised of teenagers and parents. The cast of the show is all Caucasian except for one father. Each set of parents is different. The parents of the teen mother are unmarried living together and had a baby the same time as their teen daughter; there is a set of parents in a mixed marriage, a widowed father, and a single mother. The show also has a Down Syndrome teenager who gets no special attention. The story lines focus on the teenagers, secrets between friends and what is happening in their lives. The scenes are either shot at the school or in one of the rooms of the many homes. During commercials one of the teen stars in the show does a public announcement about talking with your children about teen pregnancy and abstinence.

All in the Family was shown from the viewpoint of the living room in the Bunker home. Occasionally you would see the kitchen, but not the upstairs. Most of the dialogue happened with Archie and Edith sitting in their chairs in front of the television. If Gloria and Mike were part of the conversation, they were seated on the couch. The cast was basically about a family of four and their differences and views on world issues. You very rarely saw anyone who wasn’t Caucasian on the show.

It is hard to find similarities between the two shows because viewpoints of family life have changed so much over the years. Edith was a housewife so she was home daily and worried about Gloria even though she was an adult. On Secret Life the main set of parents are self-involved and the teenage sisters pretty much do what they want.

The target audiences for All in the Family would be more the adult set. I think some of the issues discussed on the show would be difficult for the younger generation to relate to. Secret Life audiences would be the teenager set who are dealing with some of the same issues the show covers. I would say there would also be some adults who might tune in to get a feel for what is happening in their own teenagers life.


  1. I remember watching All in the Family a couple of times when I was younger, but I did not watch it regularly. The Secret Life I do watch with my 15 year old daugther. This is a show she loves to watch and it gives me a chance to spend time with her and talk to her about issues such as sex and making good decisions.

  2. I only seen All in the family a couple times as well. Your right All in the family was reserved on topics about sex. I havent seen the show The secret life. You gave really good information about both shows now I feel like I watched them since they aired. It seems the show The secret life is educational for teens and parents to understand the teen world in this generation. I was a teenage mother at 15 and I always talk to my kids about sex, drugs and life issues. It takes us as parents to stir our children in the right direction, but teens do have their own mind and tend to not listen sometimes. I think the shows should speak about real life issues and how to deal with certain situations. Very good post!

  3. Heidi and S Hill - My daughter is 29 years old and I still find myself watching this show. It is a good show to watch for parents and teens. I find myself telling my sister she really ought to watch it with her 12 and 16 year old daughters. I notice the difference in how this subject is handled now against how it was handled when I was a teenager. Big difference.

  4. You all have inspired me to start watching The Secret Life. Thanks! I have 3 kids and tell my 15 yr old it will "kill" me if he makes me a grandma before I am old enough! LOL. He laughs at me, but I hope something sticks in the back of his mind!