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While I agree this was a 1950s sitcom, I don't feel it was "typical".
Firstly, Donna Reed was a STRONG woman, unlike the regular 50s sitcom
moms. She made a stand for women's worth and equality (remember the
episode where the TV announcer says "just a housewife") and Donna
stands up for all women do and represent, especially those that don't
work outside the home? And when the women rebelled against something in
the series, it was not something trivial...it was always something to
show that women have the right to be treated with the same respect as
men. Remember, Donna Reed was married to the show's producer, so she
had much more input into making hers a more powerful character.
The children were intelligent, but not precocious. They were normal kids. And they could ACT.
Something else that made Donna Reed Show stand out was not only did the children LOOK like their parents, but you could feel the chemistry between all the actors in the real life situation, which then came out in the characters. Shelly Fabares and Paul Peterson have often written and remarked that they were treated like the children of Donna Reed and Carl Betz, and that the adults were fiercely protective of the child actors, and treated them accordingly. Donna and Alex also had somewhat of a sexual chemistry that wasn't seen on the other family shows. And the characters could be flawed, and in major ways, and yet, accepted for the flaws and mistakes. These were not super parents that did no wrong and had no emotional highs and lows. They were normal people acting as normal people.
Women's rights, drug abuse, child abuse, single fathers, poverty, children who need good health care but can't afford it...it was all shown on this show. Pretty groundbreaking for the era.
Donna Reed show didn't last for eight years without a reason. And it could have possibly endured, had it not been for Tony Owens and Donna Reed divorcing.
This show is highly underrated and should be shown so that other generations can appreciate quality.
In summary, I agree with the original poster, who obviously cares for the show, but I think that the Donna Reed show has SO much more to offer than casual entertainment.
I loved this show when it was on nearly two decades ago. It's wholesome, but not nauseatingly so. It's funny, but not frenetically. One of the funnier episodes was when the household is visited by a pollster who embarrasses Donna by predicting her every move, as she is the "average" housewife. This brand of humor is obviously more subtle than Lucy. And because it is, there is little appreciation. Donna Reed was also a great lady in real life.
I remember watching this show sometimes when it was on Nick at Nite back in the 80s. I was a kid at the time and I remember Donna Stone just being so nice. She always solved any problem in such a sweet, wholesome and sensible manner. Sure it's another example of that 'perfect picturesque fifties family lifestyle' but it's part of television heritage. Just like those messages imbedded in the show telling you to have good manners, drink more milk and marry a doctor. Still, the theme song brings back memories that are warm and endearing. Donna Reed will always be there to give us our milk and cookies.
Although it only lasted eight seasons on ABC, The Donna Reed Show was your typical sitcoms with all the trimmings. Unlike it counterparts back then(like "My Three Sons", "Ozzie and Harriet", "Leave It To Beaver") this show was about a housewife who was always into something and usually helps out and usually solve all situations within a half-hour(even within a family crisis along with her husband Dr. Stone to help out around the house). The show did have two of it stars to make it big: Paul Peterson(who is now a advocate for child actors)had a hit record back in the early 1960's with "My Dad"(for which he sang that song on one of the episodes),and Shelley Fabares who had a #1 hit record with "Johnny Angel",which stay on the top-ten charts for a record five weeks back in 1963,and had two more hit TV series after Donna with here own sitcom back in the 1970's("The Shelley Fabares Show"),and again in the 1990's with "Coach" opposite Craig T. Nelson. However,the show did manage to make the transition from black and white to color in the show's final season(those color episodes are rarely seen),and afterwards it's re-runs usually appear on TV's Nick-at-Nite if you get the chance to see them. A TV classic.
Many people enjoy poking fun at all the 50s-60s family comedies such as
"Ozzie and Harriet", "Leave it to Beaver" and our own "Donna Reed Show"
citing how unreal and "perfect" they were.
Well, I suppose they were, however, none were intended to be taken as documentaries. They were there to entertain, and along the way, perhaps sneak in some moral to their stories, a facet sadly lacking from todays TV crop of "family" comedies. I submit that ALL television families lack realism just by virtue of their BEING television families. "Roseanne" and her ilk are no more real than the Donnas and Junes or yesteryear. And, I'd much prefer living next the Stones than I would the Connors.
Also, to those of us who were the only child, or members of a family who yelled instead of discussing, such programs provided surrogate siblings and a look at rational parenting. Being an only child, I sort of bonded with these video families who came to visit once a week, and felt better for it.
For those who've never seen it, "The Donna Reed Show" presented the Stone family: Donna, former nurse, now a typical suburban wife of the era, her husband, Alex, a pediatrician whose office was in their home, at least for the first 7 seasons, their teenage daughter Mary, whose life revolved around school dances, boys, and fashion and who could be a bit self-absorbed and selfish (no perfection there) and their younger son, Jeff, who got into minor trouble at school occasionally (once he was even suspended! - hardly perfection there, either), enjoyed sports, and driving Mary to distraction as younger brothers are wont to do. During the last couple of seasons, Mary had gone off to college, and the Stones adopted pre-teen daughter Tricia, who was the sister of Jeff in real life as well as "reel" life. Alex was played by Carl Betz, Mary by Shelley Fabares, Jeff by Paul Petersen, and Tricia by Patty Petersen.
The program ran for eight seasons 1958-66, on ABC and was enjoyable enough, though hardly as "perfect" as it seemed on the surface. Parents Donna and Alex were involved in their children's lives and usually patient and understanding with them, reasoning through problems, though Alex sometimes raised his voice to a very un50s type bellow. As a child, I watched every week, and had a slight crush on Mary, and would recommend the show to those not completely jaded by our "modern" age.
The quintessential housewife and perfect mother, Donna Reed (as Donna
Stone) could do it all. Settle spats between the children or neighbors,
take care of her hard-working pipe-smoking pediatrician husband, Alex,
and still have a stack of pancakes, three types of breakfast meat, and
a tall glass of milk and OJ ready for the kids every morning before
Over the course of the past fifty years, we've lost sight of the idealistic stay-at-home mom, family meals together at the kitchen table, and preparing dinner for a hard-working husband when he comes home from work.
I wish the show were available on DVD- I'd discontinue my cable altogether!
I too would rather live next door to the Stones and not the Conners! I've heard people say that this show was "syrupy", "unrealistic", etc. My reply is "have you ever sat and watched an episode?" Anyone who watched the show knows that Donna and Alex had their quarrels and so did Mary and Jeff. They even quarreled with their parents. But in the end, they all made up with one another, and kept the family unit in tact. Having come from a terribly unstable "dysfunctional" family, I loved to watch this show; I always believed that when I had a family of my own it would be like the Stones. Friends told me that this was unrealistic and I said why? If other families can live trashy, unstable lives, then why can't I have a stable, moralistic life? Why can't I have a stable family that I love, and take care of? They had no reply to this. Anyway, when times are difficult, and the world seems so chaotic & cold, I put in a tape of the Donna Reed Show, and things don't seem quite so bad-it gives me hope. I still believe in the family unit and I most certainly do not believe that we have to live like Roseanne. I know that life does not have to be like the Conners or the Bundy's--and anyone who thinks that these shows are normal and funny needs to take a long hard look at their own lives. These are not funny--they are sad.
I was five when the show made its debut in 1958 and at a later point, was a regular viewer. I remember that I really enjoyed the show, along with "Leave It To Beaver", "My Three Sons", "Ozzie and Harriet", "Dick Van Dyke", reruns of "I Love Lucy", "The Real McCoys", etc. I am now enjoying the first season of "Donna Reed" on DVD and have watched the first two episodes. Donna Stone is shown to be an intelligent, well-mannered, problem-solving, serene, stay-at-home mom, similar to June Cleaver and in contrast to Lucy Ricardo. In episode 2, I especially like how Ms. Reed becomes a surrogate dad, trading in her dress for sweats and boxing gloves, while teaching her son how to defend himself physically against a much larger bully. While none of the mothers in the neighborhood I grew up in, including my own, exactly met the idealistic standards portrayed by Ms. Reed, it is refreshing to see good manners and intelligent decision-making prevail at the end of the day, in contrast to today's accepted standards of vulgarity, selfishness and indifference among one's neighbors. I cannot imagine Jeff and Mary Stone being told by their parents that trespassing in their neighbors' yards is okay, leaving a dog outside to bark all day is acceptable, or telling their mother to "shut up" in a supermarket in front of everyone.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
[MAY BE SPOILERS]
If you're looking for a sitcom that depicts how much better life used to be, look no further. Meet the Stones and that depicts how firm a family they are, not what their hearts or heads are made of. There's Alex, a pediatrician. Alex can be annoying at times because not only does he give off a stern fatherish Ward Cleaver vibe, but he seems to find a humerous side to everything! When the chips are down, he finds the funny side of it. But you know what they say, if you don't have a sense of humor, you're better off dead. Next was happy homemaker, Donna and their two kids: Mary and Jeff. They'd be getting into all
sorts of trouble. I like the one where they find a baby on their doorstep. They soon find out it belongs to their milkman. Or the one where they're at the auction and Jeff wants the football uniform and they all end up bidding on it together. Those episodes where they do stuff together or when Mary and Jeff were at eachother's throats were good, I didn't too much like the ones where Alex and Donna try to help people's marriages, including their own. Can you believe there was almost 300 episodes of this show made? I wonder what the other seasons were about, I've only seen the first one. So, where are they now? Donna Reed and Carl Betz are dead. Betz died in '78 and Reed followed in '86. Very tragic.
The kids, Paul Petersen and Shelley Fabares are still around. They're almost in their 60s! So in conclusion, I rather like this show. It's entertaining. If you like these kinds of sitcoms, I also recommend Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best, or Hazel. And you'll see how much better life was back then. Kids were well behaved. Mom stayed at home while Dad went to work. Today, the kids are obnoxious, Mom works and sometimes Dad stays home. Anyway, I'm done rambling, check out this show as soon as possible!
Like a lot of stars of the big screen as their careers wound down, so
many turned to television where probably they secured their reputations
for posterity. Donna Reed is a case in point.
I don't think Donna Reed ever thought that Donna Stone was anything challenging, not to a woman who had won an Oscar for playing a very different type in From Here to Eternity. She was certainly better prepared to play wife, mother, and homemaker Donna Stone after having played Mary Bailey in It's A Wonderful Life.
Donna was always beautiful and wise and ever helpful with the problems of her kids and her husband. Carl Betz was not an idiot, he was a pediatrician who had his office attached to the house. Talk about the man being ever ready in a crisis.
Though this was the Donna Reed Show because Donna's husband at the time, Tony Owen produced it. Yet it lasted as long as did because of the popularity of the two children, Shelley Fabares and Paul Petersen. Fabares had that best selling teen record Johnny Angel which she introduced on the show. She successfully made the transition to adult star, most known for her role in Coach as Craig T. Nelson's wife.
But Petersen was a bubblegum teen idol back in the day. The Donna Reed Show dare I say got most of its viewers because of him. It's forgotten now, but Petersen also had a best selling record, My Dad. Didn't do half as well as Johnny Angel.
Now Paul Petersen runs a support group for former child stars like himself. So many of them end so tragically, it's good work that he's doing.
The Stone family was the quintessence of Middle America. They lived in a suburb near Chicago, they led wholesome lives. Mom and Dad were always there for the kids. Of course the problems they had usually were nothing more than breaking curfew.
It's this series I believe was the model for the TV town of Pleasantville where Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon are sucked into.
I have pleasant memories of The Donna Reed Show. Easy to take, but not too seriously.
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