“We had better get dinner started” June says to daughters Penny and Judy as the men load up their ray guns to go fight some aliens the robot has identified are approaching. I am not making this up, I actually heard this. After all they are Lost in Space, and someone has to do the cooking. It was the 1960’s and as a child viewing this taught the functioning ethic of the time brought to you by some sponsor who evidently endorsed these values.
The rest taught by the box in the living room wasn’t always so static.
If your parents were more advanced they might let you stay up past 9 PM in 1966 to watch Star Trek and observe the first interracial kiss beamed aboard the single family dwelling I thought everyone lived in. The great aspect of this show was the lessons were often timeless, and grounded in the truths and virtues which span the centuries, so one can easily see the morality plays of ancient Greece taking place in the 23rd century.
After a while I began to question the entire concept of life as portrayed on television then. While the Space family Robinson seemed to be happy, everyone had their role to play, in Star Trek seem to bring out the best in humanity, shifting the worst of our characteristics to the aliens and the women were not confined to the kitchen.
Or how about something more down to earth, like Hogan’s Hero’s? Life in a German POW camp looked downright fun. That cannot be the case. Later we learn Bob Crane, who played Hogan was killed in Florida in a still unsolved crime. Richard Dawson, the RAF subordinate to Hogan went on to host a somewhat strained television game show called Family Feud where he apparently had license to kiss all the women, accelerating the icky aspect of his post 1960’s persona.
1960’s television has left me longing for the 23rd century, where we have apparently thrown off the worst of our particular prejudices and become the best humans can be. At least that is what the theme song sounds like, at least until I turned it all off.