Home Improvement

In 1991 (the year after Robert Bly's Iron John was published) Home Improvement, starring comedian Tim Allen as Tim “The Toolman” Taylor, brought the complicated state of contemporary masculinity to prime-time television. While many TV families of the late 1980s and early 1990s featured single fathers (e.g., Who's the Boss, Empty Nest, Full House) and workplace settings (e.g., Cheers, Murphy Brown, Designing Women), Home Improvement thrust the middle-class WASP family back into the spotlight, challenging popular notions of ideal fatherhood and masculinity within the nuclear family. Whereas family shows of the 1950s, such as Father Knows Best, featured a flawless breadwinner and family man, Home Improvement introduced a father struggling to understand himself and his family; and whereas mastery of home improvement had typified ...

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