Leave It To Beaver & to His Family

Leave It To Beaver was a situation comedy that ran from 1957 to 1963. I’ve watched a few episodes recently and there wasn’t an episode where I didn’t laugh. The show centers around the behavior and antics of a young boy named Beaver and the relationships between him and his older brother Wally, his mother and his father. Beaver’s parents, Ward and June Cleaver, represent the wise father and the tolerant and sympathetic mother, respectively.

The family dynamics clearly present themselves as traditional and to the audience as a perfect, stable and welcoming family. However, I believe there is much more to the story line and background of this family situation comedy than its surface image presents. I believe based on previous readings that each character is methodically named according to their role in the family and their age.

Image result for leave it to beaver family

I was shown an article my freshman year that supported the Cleaver family as an ideal family rather than a normal one in terms of how the characters were named for the show. The characters were not named randomly but were extensively thought out to fit the mold of an ideal American family. The evidence comes from analyzing the meanings behind each of the names of the family members. Ward, the father, is defined “as the act of protecting”, which is exactly what the father figure embodies in traditional, nuclear families. The mother, June, has a mythological definition as “a goddess of health”. The evidence behind the meanings of Beaver and his brother are related when we acknowledge “Beaver” as an aquatic rodent as well as Wally as an aquatic animal. The evolution of these characters is supported by the mythological strengths of their parents. They evolve not only by physically growing but also through the support, guidance and stability presented by their parents. These are the background details of each main character’s identity when looking at strictly their names. The details behind the meanings of each name clearly point to a common theme of a nuclear family to be admired and fantasized by its audience.

I find it extremely interesting to analyze the characters on Leave It To Beaver in terms of mythology and aquatic evolution. The mythology behind Ward’s and June’s names is traditional and embedded with morals and values that are cast onto their aging children who are seen as evolutionary through their species they represent.

What Leave It To Beaver’s Names Really Mean

-Meghan Murphy


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5 Responses to Leave It To Beaver & to His Family

  1. mediaphiles says:

    This is such an interesting way to approach the show! I always wonder if the creators had deeper meanings such as these in mind when writing the show or if it’s something critics attribute to the show through later analysis. I also agree with you that every episode I’ve seen of this makes me chuckle. Beaver is just too cute! -Sarah King

  2. mediaphiles says:

    This is so interesting! Does knowing this make you view the show differently? This also makes me wonder if producer’s of other shows choose their character’s names purposefully, and if so what they all mean. I have never watched the show before Professor Dalton assigned the episodes to us and I am so glad we did because it was such a funny and adorable show.
    -Jenna Romano

  3. mediaphiles says:

    This is such an interesting viewing of these characters and their respective meanings. The way in which these character’s names reflect their personalities reminds me a bit of Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling too took the time to meticulously select names for her characters that represented a bit of their being. -Valerie Medoff

  4. mediaphiles says:

    I did my blogpost about the same show but I didn’t know that they were supposed to be an ideal American family. This is something really interesting, which also shows how screen writers tried really hard with being able to stereotype american families searching for a a big audience. – Jon Baquero

  5. marymdalton says:

    Excellent post!

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