I was reading this article on Jez and it made me think of something that's been stewing in my head more and more recently.
When I was a kid in the late 80s and early 90s, with a single mother who was (and is) political, feminist, strong, and vocal, the role models I had on tv were of a similar calibre. Sure, they were of varying class levels, education levels, and family structures, but they were there in full force. Just to name a few - and I'm sure you can add many more -
Who's the Boss
The Cosby Show
Grace Under Fire
These shows had strong female leads, many of whom were or became or had been working mothers.
By the 00s this seems to have really slowed down and most sitcoms seemed to focused around Mom, Dad, 2 Kids, and a Dog "average family" type of sitcoms, where the mother stays at home and cleans and the father goes to work and commits buffoonery but yet is able to hold down a job that provides for the brood and therefore is the source of essentially all economic power in the family unit.
To me, this ties in with a huge resurgence (or just "surgence") and public visibility of fundamentalist religion. Sure, it's always been there but it seems that with every year that goes by, they're louder, stronger, richer, and more organized than ever. I think this is in part due to the rise of the internet. Just as it allows people with regionally niche interests to connect with each other and form vast networks and communities, it seems to have allowed for virulent spread of Evangelical and other fundamentalist forms of Protestant Christianity. They're connected and they're powerful. Thanks to them, faux shock is everywhere - for things we've seen before, 15-20 years ago and more!
What happened? Did we take our eyes off the ball? How did we lose these mainstream, strong female lead characters that kids could be exposed to, and push them into non-child-friendly programming?