What’s On TV – The Donna Reed Show

List Item:  Watch half of the 1001 TV Series You Must Watch Before You Die
Progress: 252/501
Title: The Donna Reed Show
Episodes Aired: 275
Year(s): 1958-1966
Country: USA

Before watching The Donna Reed Show the only thing I knew about it, other than Donna Reed herself, was this clip from Gilmore Girls. It’s not exactly a complimentary take on the show, but now I’ve seen it – their lampooning isn’t too far from the truth. Then again we are talking about a TV sitcom from the late 1950s where everything is a bit too lightweight.

Donna Reed herself is a delight and it is clear how she was able to get a show with her name on it. However, her being the perfect housewife of the perfect family does not exactly mean you can get a lot of comedic leverage. So much of it has to be wholesome and back to the status quo at the end that many of the episodes just feel too thin to work completely.

Then you get the weird episodes. Every now and then the episodes go a bit wacky and this is when the show actually becomes funny, a bit more modern and feels like a point where TV comedy was actually going to progress from. Like there’s an episode where Donna gets too high on sleeping pills to make it through a conference or when the family devolves into making pickles in order to make up a charity shortfall. Pretty bizarre scenarios that go against the whole perfect nuclear family schtick and allow the actors to have fun and so we have fun with them.

However, this is the point of doing a list like this. The Donna Reed Show is incredibly dated with it’s views of gender roles and the fact that we didn’t see a single non-white face in any episode that we watched. This is the white middle-American ideal that I am going to be seeing a bunch of other comedies in this era and why it is part of a group of comedies that are so perfect for parody. Still, you cannot deny it’s place in TV history or how it was popular enough to stay on the screens for eight years.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.