Father-Daughter Stories: A New TV Trend

I thought it might be interesting to talk a little bit about the recent trend of father-daughter dynamics in TV shows, especially in crime shows. What’s so interesting about the most recent examples is that it’s basically the same dynamic from one show to the next. Shark, Castle, Lie To Me, and a few other shows made in the last few years all center around a semi-irresponsible protagonist whose primary redeeming quality is that he’s a loving father, and include a scholastically and socially responsible daughter who acts as a smart-alecky foil for the protagonist. In the case of Castle, the relationship dynamic kind of resembles the best friend-ish mother-daughter relationship in Gilmore Girls to a certain degree. However, this makes a fair amount of sense because the father in Castle was supposed to have been raised by his mother. There are also largely father-daughter oriented shows wherein the daughter is the main character, like Veronica Mars and Hannah Montana.

Okay, at this point you may not get how unusual this is. Sure there are a couple of father-son shows on TV today, like the show Psych. But think about it for a second. In the past, the majority of television had father-son relationships (e.g. Diagnosis Murder, That 70’s Show, Sanford and Son, The Andy Griffith Show, etc.) – and a number of, mother-son or mother-daughter stories, but practically no father-daughter stories. Yeah, there were a couple of stand-out oddities like My Two Dads and Full House, but that’s not really the same thing. For that matter, neither are the occasional father-daughter episodes on ensemble shows like The Simpsons or Bones. Nope, the growing trend of having a main feature (source of sub-plots) of a show be a father-daughter relationship is really pretty new.

So, here’s my point: When the prevailing trend from the 1950s clear through the 1980s was father-son relationships, why is the focus now trending towards father-daughter stories on television? Okay, I have one theory so far (with absolutely nothing to back it up). Maybe the makers/backers of these shows are dads of daughters, or daughters of influential dads, who are writing from that perspective. Some have theorized that having three presidents with daughters in a row has influenced the public psyche, but that seems pretty unlikely to me. It’s interesting to think about, but this trend isn’t really being talked about much yet. Any theories of your own?

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