|The cast of Leave It To Beaver|
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...