Monday, April 16, 2012

There Was Always Something Hinkey About The Beev

By Sue Ann Jaffarian

The cast of Leave It To Beaver
As soon as I read this week's question, Theodore Cleaver aka The Beaver popped into my head.  I'm not sure why, but I am willing to go with my gut and examine the possibilities.

For those of you not part of the Baby Boom era, Theodore Cleaver was a kid in a TV sitcom called Leave It To Beaver that ran from 1957-1963. It was part of my childhood and we never missed an episode. I also watched them in reruns for years.

I'm sure most of you think Beaver would have made a great detective. He was nosey and always getting into jams, just like most modern fiction amateur sleuths, but I'm wondering if he might have taken a different path had the series run longer.

The Cleavers represented middle-America in the 50's. Dad worked an office job and Mom stayed home and cooked and cleaned in high heels, hose, and pearls (and I'm betting also a girdle). Older brother Wally was an athlete, handsome and popular. Younger brother Beaver was kind of goofy and well-intentioned.

Or was he...

First of all, MY mother certainly never cleaned in a dress and heels. Right there I'm suspicious about just how wound tight this TV family was behind the scenes. Was June Cleaver repressed? Did she secretly wish she'd finished her education and started a career instead of a family. Maybe she was a closet lesbian and over-compensating. After all, she and Ward Cleaver had very proper twin beds.  And how come she was always saying "Wait until your father comes home?" Didn't she have the authority to discipline her own sons? 

And what about Ward? He was always having heart-to- hearts with Beaver over his misdeeds in the den. Inquiring minds want to know what really went on behind those sliding doors. Off camera, was Beaver berated? Was his spirit beaten out of him?

And how difficult was it for Beaver to live in the shadow of his older, more stable brother. Wally was the kind of guy you wanted to bring home to mother. Had to be hard living up to a sainted older sibling when you couldn't go a week without getting into trouble. That alone could scar a kid for life.

My favorite episode was the one where Beaver climbs up on a billboard advertising soup from a steaming bowl to investigate the steam, and gets stuck. I can see it all now, years after the TV cameras are gone: Whitey and Larry have both landed lucrative careers and moved away; Wally is some big shot sports reporter on TV; Ward Cleaver embezzled money from his office and disappeared; June burned her bra, got tattoos, and is marching on Washington; and Beaver, frustrated with mounting student loan debt, a broken marriage, and no job, climbs up on the same billboard and starts taking shots at folks, starting with Eddie Haskell and Mrs. Rayburn.

At least that's how the show would play out today...

7 comments:

Reece said...

Nice post, Sue Ann. I always thought it was Eddie Haskell who was the budding sociopath on that show....

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Too obvious. But he'd be the first Beaver aims for, mark my words.

Sheila Beaumont said...

Ken Osmond, the actor who played Eddie Haskell, actually became a cop. He was a member of the LAPD vice squad.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

See, "Eddie Haskell" became a cop. I'm telling ya, the Beev was "going postal" material.

Cafe Noir said...

It's always the quite ones, the ones you don't suspect who go postal. The Eddie Haskells of the world let it out in small ways. So watch out for those quite ones...

Cafe Noir said...

That should be "quiet". Not sure how I could misspell it twice... Maybe I'll go postal now.

gregkshipman said...

Okay Sue Ann...
Here's my take (while growing up in the innards of East Baltimore). What's up with these people. Mom in a designer dress, dad with no temper? And Wally? That dude shoulda had angel wings and a halo. Beaver's worst day woulda still got him in heaven. As for the 'bad-boy', Edward Haskell. Calling someone 'squirt' isn't quite the type of thing judges in Baltimore would use to baby-book one's posterior!

Gotta tell ya... we kids watched those shows but it was like watching Sci-Fi movies without monsters or spacemen.