Choose a ½ hour sitcom from the 1950s or 1960s and write a 4-5 page paper in which you examine a single episode of your show in relation to chapters 1, 6, 7, and 8 of Elaine May’s book, Homeward Bound.


Choose a ½ hour sitcom from the 1950s or 1960s and write a 4-5 page paper in which you examine a single episode of your show in relation to chapters 1, 6, 7, and 8 of Elaine May’s book, Homeward Bound. Analyze your episode in depth – look at specific situations, characters, language, meanings, etc. – and use them to think about how culture in the 1950s and 1960s – and your sitcom in particular – reflected, interpreted, reinforced, or challenged the social order and the era.


When watching your show, keep a particular eye out for issues of consumerism, parenting, domesticity, gender relationships, and race – you cannot write about all of these issues in your paper, but one or two will give you a good focus.


When viewing your sources, remember that you are NOT watching a documentary, but a fictional representation of life in the 1950s or 1960s. You should try to understand the image of American life that the show is conveying. You should then use Homeward Bound to study the realities of the time period from which your show comes, and analyze the message(s) the show is sending to its viewers and the historical importance of that message.


NOTE: Many of these shows are available online through sites like Hulu (look under the “classic” television category), inexpensive streaming services such as Youtube, or on disc. I consider all sorts of shows from the time period – Leave it to Beaver, Ozzie and Harriet, Father Knows Best, I Love Lucy, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeanie, Dick Van Dyke, etc. – within the bounds of this assignment, but remakes or revivals of these shows from later decades do not count!  If you are unsure of the show you want to use, check with me.



The paper should be between three and five double-spaced pages, twelve point Times New Roman font, or a font of comparable size.  Include your name, the date, and a title for your paper on the first page only. Headings need to be single spaced.  Do not paper pad.



Cite specific page numbers from Elaine May in your paper parenthetically at the end of the sentence where the quote or reference appears. For example: (May, 324).


When quoting dialogue from your show in your paper, just put the director or teleplay writer’s name in parentheses, but BE DILIGENT ABOUT QUOTING ACCURATELY.  If I see sloppy transcribing and have to sit through your showin order to prove it, your grade will definitely reflect that.


At the end of your paper, provide the following information about your sitcom in a bibliographic entry:


Director or Teleplay Author’s Name. “Episode Title in quotation marks” (not all shows from the era have titles, but provide it if applicable). Show Title in Italics or Underlined.  Original Airdate. Network on which the show originally ran.  If you watched the program online, provide the URL at the end of the citation.



Do not use any sources for this assignment other than Homeward Bound, your notes from lectures and class discussions, and your chosen television show. Your job is to analyze these texts for yourself, not to seek out others’ analyses. Any evidence of outside sources will be considered evidence of plagiarism. 


I have a zero tolerance policy regarding plagiarism. Students who commit it will face a penalty ranging from a zero for the assignment to an F for the entire course, in addition to whatever penalties the academic discipline committee may deem appropriate. Students who commit plagiarism will not be allowed to withdraw with a grade of “W.”




The excerpt from Homeward Bound is broken up into two pdf files.  The first file contains chapters 1 and 6.  The second file contains chapter 7 & 8.  You will need to rotate the view in the Adobe Reader clockwise once for this file.  Also, the last page of chapter 6 is on the second file.  This page got cut in half in the first file.

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