When examined in retrospect, the 1950s in America are often viewed in a very nostalgic sense as a “simpler time.” In direct contrast with that representation, the 1960s are often remembered as a time of rebellion, chaos, and social unrest. This paper seeks to analyze 1950s and 60s television programming and regulations in light of the changes in the mainstream American mindset in order to better understand the marked differences in society between these two decades. In order to do this, I examined patterns of family life, television programming and regulations, and the American reaction to entertainment television during each decade. I analyzed content from three 1950s television series: I Love Lucy, Leave It to Beaver, and Gunsmoke and content from four shows from the 1960s: Batman, I Dream of Jeanie, The Beverly Hillbillies, and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. The black and white nostalgic television of the 1950s gave way to the real-life television of the 1960s. In conclusion, I determined that entertainment television programming did not change due to the lowering of American social and cultural standards or beliefs regarding morality, but rather it evolved due to the audience’s desire for a more accurate and realistic representation of society.

Semester/Year of Award

Fall 2016


Christiane Diehl Taylor

Mentor Professional Affiliation


Access Options

Restricted Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level



History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies

Department Name when Degree Awarded