The nucleur family is portrayed in the media in different ways depending on its purpose. Comedy programmes, like “My family” show the light hearted side of family life, in order to make the audience laugh and relate with the happy side of family, whereas soap operas, such as “Eastenders”, show the darker side of family and all the problems which a family can go through at times in their lives. The comedy show My Family, shows Ben Harper; the stereotypical harassed father of the family, his wife, Susan, an “intelligent sharp, and witty, but somewhat a control freak” and their family life with their three children.
Nick, the eldest is a slow witted, incompetent but nonetheless has a charm about him which wins over everyone, except for his father. Janie is a stereotypical teenage girl, obsessed with boys, fashion and her looks. The youngest boy Michael; is a studious, serious boy who is arguably brighter than his two siblings, and often his parents. Throughout the series the family changes, Janie leaves for university and becomes a single mother, at which point the rather dull-witted and naive Abi moves in, becoming a sort of surrogate daughter for the Harpers before Janie returns, having dropped out of university and found a flat near to her family.
The fifth series then had Nick finally move into his own flat. Whilst Michael is growing into the stereotypical teenage boy, becoming obsessed with girls and how they think of him. My Family shows the norms of a family life cycle, the children growing up and leaving, new members coming in, and the way that the characters bounce off each other is actually realistic whilst being entertaining. Ben Harper is constantly exasperated with his children, whilst his wife Susan adores them and constantly encourages Ben to show his children affection.
The family rarely show any serious issues as they want to keep a comedy programme light hearted, and most problems are resolved easily, within the episode. On the other hand; families in soap operas such as the Millers from Eastenders, suffer an extraordinary amount of trouble for one family, in fact something seems to be going horrifically wrong in every episode. The Parents of the family are Rosie Miller and Keith Miller.
Rosie has been married before and had her eldest son Mickey, who was a resident in Albert Sq. previously to the entire Millers family, Mickey’s father now lives in France and also another daughter. Rosie and Keith had two children together; Demi and Darren. Demi is currently the centre of the families’ problems, as she has just had a baby and she is only 13, and proceeded to run away with her boyfriend, take a heroine overdose and has her boyfriend commit suicide; rather a lot for a thirteen year old.
Darren is like the stereotypical rogue young boy, who goes around stealing and causing trouble, whilst his parents suffer from incompetence and neither of them can ever hold a job, and they are constantly broke. The Millers show that a family can have an extraordinary amount of problems; in fact it is very unrealistic, but then so are most soap opera, because they want complicated and exciting lots not only to attract an audience but ensure that they get so involved in a plot that they will continue watching it.
The reason the two nucleur families are portrayed so differently is because; My Family has to have a light hearted and simple approach as they want to make their audience laugh and ‘feel good’ and so that you don’t have to commit to watch every episode in order to enjoy it. However Eastenders aim to have high ratings and show difficulties in a family, to alert the public of common issues and also to excite them and make the soap opera more interesting. Eastenders has long, complicated issues which take a long time to solve and they carry on over weeks or months, so that the public will watch it all.