Like All In the Family, Wait Till Your Father Gets Home's
social commentary works because it appeals to every member in the household. Mocking nuclear family norms, this animated series is more radical than most Hanna-Barbera cartoons featuring dogs in hats, ghosts from space, and other zany characters. Wait Till Your Father Gets Home
banks on stereotypes: the bread-winning, straight-laced, "crew cut" father, Harry Boyle (Tom Bosley of Happy Days
), housewife, Irma, and their three revolutionary children. Alice, the conflicted feminist on a constant diet, Chet, proto-slacker perpetually meditating with long hair and bell bottoms, and the little businessman, scoffing idealism to emulate his father's good sense. Each episode in The Complete First Season
explains the generation gap between baby boomers and hippies, making a virtual history book of what kids disagreed with back in the early seventies. In "The Hippie," Chet adopts a vagrant buddy to his parents chagrin. In "The New Car," Harry laments a consumerist society based on sales scams rather than old-fashioned customer service. In "Mama's Identity," Irma takes Alice's advice to reject her housewife lifestyle for an equally degrading secretarial position in a law office. And in each episode, The Boyle's racist, pro-war neighbor, Ralph, offers a glimpse into the paranoid fantasies upheld by those who feared post-Cold War, Communist takeover. This is not to mention the radical animation approach taken by Hanna-Barbera, who hired a Playboy cartoonist, Marty Murphy, to design the characters. The intro sequence has a soundtrack reminiscent of Schoolhouse Rock
, and the fact that people are rendered in full color against flat, line-drawn backgrounds only further emphasizes the social aspect of the series. These sophisticated, adult cartoons are fresher now than they were when us kids viewed them back in the day. Trinie Dalton
Wait Till Your Father Gets Home chronicles the lives of the Boyles, your average 1970's American family. Harry Boyle, the father, owns a restaurant supply company. His wife Irma portrays the typical housewife, with an occasional independent flare. Harry and Irma have three children: Chet, Alice, and Jamie. Chet, who is 22, is a college dropout, who spends most of his time sleeping. Alice is a rather robust 16-year-old, who teams up with her mother, to display the independence of women, in the 70's. Jamie is the Capitalist of the family, even though he is only 9.