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.
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.