Leave it to Beaver

Leave It To Beaver is a classic 1950's-1960's sitcom. It is well remembered for it's depiction of family life in a bygone era that never really existed.

Just The Facts

  1. Leave It To Beaver ran from 1957 to 1963 on two networks.
  2. 234 episodes were produced.
  3. Only one of those episodes featured a black actor in a speaking role.

Cracked On Leave It To Beaver

the_cleavers

Leave It To Beaver is a show remembered by some as an example of a simpler time in America. A time before today's modern anything-goes mentality and it's culture of crassness. A time when traditional family values ruled the day. It is remembered by others as seemingly taking place in an alternate universe that bore no resemblance to reality even when it was new.

Story

Leave It To Beaver focuses on the supposedly idyllic Cleaver family. Ward, June and their two sons, Wally and Theodore. Theodore was given the nickname "The Beaver" because it was 1957 and no one knew how regrettable that name would become in later years.

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This is the only GIS result for "beaver" that we can show.

The story almost always follows a rigid formula. A typical episode usually finds Beaver (or occasionally Wally) doing something tremendously stupid when they should obviously know better. This is followed by the boys' attempt to cover up the crime. This inevitably fails, Ward and June find out and Tough But Fair Punishments are meted out. Then Ward delivers a lecture summing up the Lesson of the episode to the strains of a slowed-down rendition of the show's theme song played on violins. It's all very heartwarming.

noose

Some of Ward's punishments were harsher than others.

Characters

Ward

The stern but amiable father. Ward works in an office doing...work of some kind. When the boys get into a jam, as they do with alarming regularity, Ward always doles out punishment, fatherly wisdom or both. Frequently wears a suit and tie even when he's just hanging around the house.

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Ward. Seen here just as he wakes up in the morning.

June

June epitomizes the ideal housewife, at least by 1950's standards. Painfully domestic, she keeps the house immaculately clean and always has dinner ready on time (often performing these tasks in heels and pearls). She's also helpless when her man isn't around, sometimes calling him home from his amorphous work to deal with the boys.

june_cleaver

We would make a pearl necklace joke but we're too busy being mature.

Wally

The oldest son is the All-American Boy. Good at sports, popular with girls and a good influence on his kid brother, Wally is the one most likely to grow up to be a self-hating homosexual.

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Wally Cleaver. Chick magnet.

The Beaver

The titular Beaver (snicker) is the character most of the episodes focus on. He is precocious and full of mischief, but never gets into so much trouble that he stops being wholesome.

beaver_cleaver

So wholesome he doesn't even know which finger means "fuck you".

Other Characters

Most of the ancillary characters take the form of Wally and Beaver's friends. Turns out one thing the two brothers have in common is their penchant for befriending assholes. Beaver had a variety of chums who paraded through, serving mostly to talk the gullible Beaver into doing things he knew he shouldn't, thereby setting up most of the episodes' wacky situations and inevitable Valuable Lesson. The primary catalyst of Beaver's troubles is Larry Mondello, a chunky little passive/agressive sociopath. Among the many things Larry convinces Beaver to do are smoking, drilling a hole in the garage wall and calling a female schoolmate a "smelly old ape".

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Larry Mondello. Admit it, don't you want to wring his little neck?

Wally's friends include Clarence "Lumpy" Rutherford, a massive man/boy who mercilessly bullies everyone but Wally (who he is inexplicably afraid of) and smarmy con artist Eddie Haskell. Eddie fancies himself an "operator", which seems to be 1950's slang for "douchebag". He sucks up to the adults, then congratulates himself behind their backs for being so much smarter than them. He gloms on to Wally, indirectly benefitting from Wally's supposed awesomeness.

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Eddie Haskell. Jerkass.

Resemblance To Reality (Or Lack Thereof)

While some people look at the show as a piece of nostalgia for a lost America, others point out that it paints a picture of an America that is completely divorced from the real world.

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Not sure how this picture got here. Must be a formatting error.

The Leave It To Beaver universe is a place where women are subservient and happy to be so. Where confident, upper-middle-class men keep the world spinning on it's axis. Where all families are happily nuclear and honesty and clean living are the keys to prosperity. Also everyone's white.

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So very, very white.

As far as sex is concerned, Leave It To Beaver treats the subject just like every other show of the era, which is to say it doesn't. But that only makes sense considering that sex didn't exist in the 50's.

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Not pictured: Sex.

Kind of makes you wonder why we brought the subject up at all.

marylin_monroe

Nothing to see here.

Why even mention it if it doesn't really relate to the topic at hand?

bettie_page

This is so totally relevant. You don't even know.

Look, it's not like we couldn't come up with a strong finish or anything and therefore had to resort to cheap titillation.

jayne_mansfield

So not cheap.

*hehehe* "titillation"!

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Not pictured: Titillation.

And something else that has something to do with whatever this topic is about.

spanking_bettie

You're welcome.