The American Dream
After soldiers returned home from their duty in World War II, they were given the keys to the American dream courtesy of the G.I. Bill. This enabled these veterans to pursue higher education and buy a home. With this security to drive them, these men were free to marry and start their families immediately. As a result, the families were typically bigger. Because of this, the ideal scenario found the wife at home full-time, taking care of her children while the husband pursued a career.
Father Knows Best
The emerging popularity of American television helped shape gender roles for both men and women through the 1950s. Expanding families and young children were reared in a TV generation, where gender roles were clearly defined by the societal ideal. Shows like the 1954 sitcom "Father Knows Best" established in the title the patriarchal sentiment of the decade, where men not only were the primary breadwinners but ultimately presided over the family unit itself. Ironically, the sitcom initially had such bad ratings it was canceled by CBS in 1955. It was picked up by NBC, the radio network that had originated the series, and ran the rest of the decade.
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