The American Dream

F is for Family is a Netflix Original. This means it’s not on cable or satellite TV stations. Digital streaming applications like Hulu, Netflix and even Youtube now are putting out their own shows.  You could watch F Is for Family literally anywhere that Wifi is present and Netflix subscription. When you install Netflix it’s for the movies and mainstream TV shows. F is for Family is a little goodie that come along for the ride. This animated show excels when it comes to putting their characters and sets into 1970’s context. It not only kills the 70’s vibe but, of course focuses on the good, the bad, and the ugly of the American Dream in suburbia.

F is for family

Now, because Netflix is independent from traditional television it does not make its money from advertisements. They make all of their cash flow from subscriptions. This means they don’t participate in the Nielsen ratings. Netflix can put out any show no matter how graphic or raunchy. There are no limits. This is how a show like F is For Family is born and the eventual success that comes with anything associated with Netflix.  If you wanted to learn more about Netflix and the waterfalls of content they produce check out this New Yorker article “The Image of Netflix as a Content Utopia”.

The saying goes that history repeats itself. Now F is For Family doesn’t dive into large global issues but, it puts an entertaining spin on the issues of suburbia. Recently in our area Market Basket workers went on strike for better rights.  The fifth episode of the series “O Holy Moly Night” the main character Frank is your typical blue collar, breadwinner and alcoholic dad. He has the wonderful task of being a strike mediator for his Airplane Company. The union workers went on strike just like so many people have from the past, present and future.  The issues the narrative of this show is preoccupied with could have happened to the everyday middle class family. The social norms this show puts into context were not only prominent in the 1970’s but, in our own 2016 society. It is only until recently are society’s norms are being challenged.

Its 1970 your name is Frank Murphy. You live the stereotypical blue collar, hardworking, family life. You have achieved the American Dream. What is the American Dream? Well the F is for family characters are a perfect example. One wife, 2.5 kids, a dog, nice house, yard and a big fence are Frank’s sole reason for living. The American Dream is definitely the Main theme. This show how ever points out the negatives that come with it. For example evidence to support this would be his wife going against the traditional cooking and cleaning norm and getting a job. Its 1970 so Frank is embarrassed and believes a women’s place is in the kitchen.  They overcome this issue and make up. The reason why the 1970’s context works so well is because of the lack of electronics. Frank has to wait and hope his wife was coming back after a blow out. There were no cellphones. He couldn’t text her or call her. The only phone they have had finger holes and a spinning action dialed the number. One screw up and you had to start all over.


All of the traditional archetypes are present though out the show.  Kevin Frank’s oldest is your typical burnout but, a 70s version. A viewer will understand through the setting, dialogue and subtext that he is the living embodiment of a freak.  He plays the guitar and always wearing rock and roll clothing from that time period.  The other children seem like they could play their roles in anytime there’s really nothing that stands out to me. Bill and Maureen’s experiences are like coming of age stories. Bill is involved in the societal norm of nerd versus bully. Maureen is a tom boy.  Like I said before Frank’s wife Sue is a good example of mainstream norms in the 70’s. She cooks, cares for the children, cleans and tries to make Frank’s life easier. Her character is so important because she challenges the major gender issue of the breadwinner in this series.

F is for family does a great job representing the reality of a 1970’s suburban family. All of the characters seem real and depth in their characteristics. Costume or what they wear only comes into play sometimes. For the most part it is the witty dialogue that makes up each character’s most important traits. It’s the things and issues they talk about that puts the show into that 1970’s perspective.  The societal and contextual norms of that decade are expressed perfectly in everyday conversations the characters have.  The settings themselves reminded me of a popular series That 70’s Show. I got a lot of what I know from the 70’s context from watching this show. The types of props and color hues are almost identical. The only thing that different is F is for Family is animated. They don’t need lighting or cameras. All they need is their artists to pay attention to detail.

The target demographic or the viewers that F is For Family tries to attract is men. My dad doesn’t enjoy animated series but this show is riding the success wake that is animated situational comedy. This show can be categorized with shows like Family Guy, American Dad, and Bob’s Burgers. Netflix is trying latch on to this growing niche in the entertainment side of media.  This show could attract an older generation just as much as the younger generation supports it. Men in their 50’s could really enjoy this series because it’s based on the era they grew up in.

In conclusion F is for Family is a series that I believe Netflix hit a homerun with.  They successfully created a show the represents the reality of the 1970’s American Dream. It’s kind of like wearing your favorite clothes in public but their dirty and stained. This show gives you a new perspective on 70’s and entertains you with comedic relief using everyday issues.

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