Sample Essay on Portrayal of Families in the Media

Portrayal of Families in the Media


It is evident that the media plays an integral role in portraying the family in many different perspectives since it acts as an influential agent, which has the capability of shaping people’s values and attitudes. Television for a very long time has been like a family member since many families watch it together during their family times especially in the evening (Johansen, 2012). Ideally, many members of the family are exposed to television when they are at their infancy stage. The television has various functions in homes, which include entertaining people, educates them, acts as baby-sits, gives comfort, and it portrays how families should survive. The 7th Heaven is a famous drama television series, which is an exemplary example of how the media has portrayed the family (TV Guide, 2015). This media critique will expound on how television specifically the 7th Heaven family TV show has portrayed the family and discuss various integral concepts about family life according to this medium.

The 7th Heaven Family TV Show

How television portrays the family is paramount since it acts as a learning source for many people where they learn about family life and the meaning of an ideal family (Johansen, 2012). People also learn how families look like, how they resolve their problems, the behavior of spouses, and parents should treat their children. There are various television programs such as soap operas, family dramas and situation comedies that are mostly about family. They depict certain concepts, which take place in a family such as jealousy, fighting, distorted relationships, and success issues among members of the family (Walters & Stone, 2009).

In the 7th Heaven family TV show, it is evident that the Camden’s family has been through numerous drama and challenges that usually take place in a family setup. The show is among the best TV shows since it portrays the reality of what happens in a family and the various obstacles that family members encounter. Some of the challenges that the Camden’s family have to overcome include dealing with drugs, cutting, suspension, suicide, gang life, and suspension among others (TV Guide, 2015). In essence, its overall theme articulates that people’s families will always care and love them regardless of the members of the family not liking them.

It is worth noting that the TV show portrays effectively a nuclear family, which strictly adheres to the traditional family roles, and it centers on the popular Camden family. The media has various ways of portraying the family in different ways such as showing a modern family that lives applies current family trends and it can also portray those families that follow traditional lifestyles. The family in the 7th Heaven TV show comprises of Reverend Eric Camden, the father, Annie, his wife, as well as their seven children namely, David, Sam, Ruthie, Simon, Lucy, Marry, and Matt (TV Guide, 2015).

On the same note, religion greatly influences the Camden’s family since their father is a Church Minister in a Protestant church, which is located in their locality. Hence, the family members have to behave in an appropriate manner since this is what the society expects from them because of their father’s social status. Nevertheless, each episode of the TV show deals with various morality themes, as well as issues such as teen pregnancy, menstruation, pre-marital sex, alcohol, and drugs (TV Guide, 2015). When the parents need to make certain decisions, they ensure that all members of the family are involved whereby the parents seek their advice and opinions. In other words, each family member is involved in the family’s decision-making process especially on matters about their family and other children in the family (Walters & Stone, 2009). Interestingly, the Camden children represent children from different age groups, which portray diverse relationships between the parents and children.

In the same suit, the Camden family’s parent-child relationship appears to be strong despite the numerous hardest times that they encounter. It is exciting to witness Annie and Eric working together to raise and guide their children to follow good morals (TV Guide, 2015). They also teach and instill knowledge to their children on how to deal with various situations since they will encounter them in their adulthood. These parents trust that their children will make the right decisions and when they make mistakes, they utilize fair punishments, as well as give the children lectures about their wrong doings. The children are also sentenced to some grounding or the parents repossess an item from them as a form of punishment in accordance to Gunter & Svennevig (2008).

Subsequently, the Camden’s family children mostly confide in them, which show that there is a communal trust between the children and their parents. The married Annie and Eric confide in each other, which makes it easier for them to rear their children for both of them (TV Guide, 2015). In essence, both parents participate in nurturing their children rather than one parent being responsible for a particular function. Thus, Annie and Eric share roles, as well as even exchange these functions sometimes depending on the situation. Ideally, this TV show is an exemplary portrayal of the family, which shows what happens in reality and this is what should be practiced in a family (Fabes, Wilson & Christopher, 2010).

In one particular episode, Eric discovers a roll of marijuana joint when he was in the house. Immediately, he suspects that the joint belonged to Matt although Annie is able to convince him not to make unsubstantiated conclusions. Hence, Annie and Eric have a family gathering where they children are asked to state the owner of the joint. It is evident that Eric has difficulties maintaining his composure especially when Matt admits that the joint was his and Eric does not allow him to offer an explanation. Eric fumes with anger while Matt dashes out of the house quickly. Later, Annie has an in-depth discussion with Eric about how he tackled that situation and when Matt returns to the house, Annie calls him and they both have an intimate conversation instead of Eric. Annie discloses about a high school party event where she smoked marijuana, as well as a car accident, which involved a boyfriend of her best friend that was under the influence of marijuana. Matt becomes angry and leaves the room although there is a scene where he runs into their local church, sits down and starts to pray (TV Guide, 2015). Notably, this portrays how religion assists in parenting in families and this TV show is ideal for parents and children (Fabes, Wilson & Christopher, 2010).

In addition, religion is an integral concept in the family dynamics since it teaches its members how to live according to their different religious affiliations and it plays a vital in the Camden’s family. Their father is a respected reverend at their local Protestant church, and the protestant beliefs strongly influence the family’s expectations and morals. Reverend Eric Camden imparts on his children strong morals and values similarly, to what a father in a family should do to his children. Eric’s influence was so powerful that it made Lucy became a church minister when she was an adult (TV Guide, 2015). In essence, their religious beliefs determine how they punish, as well as raise their children and these religious beliefs strengthen the children relationship with their parents. Annie and Eric strive to instill knowledge about doing things right in their children. Hence, their religious practices define their family’s beliefs, morals and values that are paramount in any family set up (Gunter & Svennevig, 2008)


In summation, the 7th Heaven TV shows that describes the Camden family sets an exemplary example of a portrayal of the family. The show is realistic because the events that take place normally happen in other families, their parent-child relationships are very strong during tough times, and they eventually succeed. This is what should take place in reality whereby family members can support each other when they are faced with challenges. There is a good connection between the children and the parents since the parents trust their children whereas the children have mutual respect for them. Ideally, the ease of the nuclear, married and upper-middle-class families creates favorable relationships between children and parents. Hence, the 7th Heaven TV show is a noble portrayal of real family life, and it teaches people valuable lessons on how families should live, as well as how they should handle their challenges. The implications of this portrayal include offering guidelines on how family members should have mutual respect, and they need to have religious practices, which instill good morals. People watching this show will be impacted positively since they will have learned various family concepts that make families live in harmony.


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Fabes, R. A., Wilson, P. & Christopher, F. S. (2010). A time to reexamine the role of television in family life. Family Relations, 337-341.

Gunter, B., & Svennevig, M. (2008). Behind and in front of the screen: Television’s involvement with family life. New York: John Libbey & Company.

Johansen, E. J. (2012). The Portrayals of Family in Media. Journal of Family Issues, 62(11), 10643-217.

TV Guide. (2015). 7th Heaven TV Show. Retrieved on 29th November 2015 from < >

Walters, J. K., & Stone, V. A. (2009). Television and Family Matters. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 15(4), 409-414.