Joanne Morreale presented a paper, “The Dick Van Dyke Show and New Meanings of Manhood,” at the Console-ing Passions conference in Dublin, Ireland in June.
In this presentation, Morreale addressed why The Dick van Dyke Show (CBS, 1961-66) constituted an important moment in television history as the cultural milieu shifted from the fifties to the sixties. In particular, the show’s representations of shifting gender relations expressed the liberal sensibility of an emergent young, upwardly mobile middle class. In this paper I argue that writer-producer Carl Reiner’s autobiographical character, Rob Petrie, articulated a new, more egalitarian version of the sitcom male that corresponded to the liberalism of Kennedy’s New Frontier. The Dick van Dyke Show implicitly critiqued fifties culture and paved the way for the socially relevant sitcoms of the seventies.