MovieChat Forums > My Three Sons Discussion > Female Expectations In The Show

Female Expectations In The Show

Today I watched the "Cameleon" episode. Ernie's new friend, believed to be a boy named Mike, turns out to be a girl named Michelle. Michelle presents/behaves as a male and, in my opinion, appears to be comfortable as such. This was obviously encouraged by Michelle's father, who is introduced later. I don't recall any mention of Michelle's mother. It's interesting that once the Douglas family discovers this, they "encourage" Michelle to embrace her feminine side. They also begin to treat her differently, speaking to her in a more gentle, friendlier manner. Their mission was accomplished in the end--Ernie and Michelle go to a dance together, dressed to their juvenile nines and getting along just fine.

Some months ago I saw another episode where the Douglases all go to Hawaii--Steve was going on business and invited the family to come along to vacation. Uncle Charley decides to look up an old flame from his Merchant Marine days. He finds her but, to his surprise, she had "changed." She was older. She was heavier. She wanted to get married--he didn't. Not now. Not even with her two muscle-bound brothers defending her honor. He dodged her for the rest his vacation.

These type episodes always catch my eye. Whenever I see an old sitcom where the storyline involves society's expectations of females, I want to see the outcome. The outcome usually is the same--the female conforms to what EVERYONE ELSE wants her to be. Nice. Charming. Feminine. Pretty. "My Three Sons" is no exception. In "Cameleon," Michelle does have a fault in that she enjoys breaking things. The Douglases had a right to be angry when she broke their window and vase. Did they have a right to change her into what THEY thought she should be? Uncle Charley appeared to be at least 75, yet NO ONE said one word about this fact. Surely he'd gained a pound or 30 over time. No one noticed.

I'll admit that I kinda like watching "My Three Sons" overall, as dated as it is. I just don't see why a family-oriented show needed to send this message to females to conform. Was/Is being yourself so terrible?


I would think any adult would think it helpful to help

a) a little girl dress/act in a way that will get her more friends and not be ostracized by others;

b) a little boy dress/act in a way that will get him more friends and not be ostracized by others.

I wrote it that way to emphasize that children, while they obviously need to "be themselves" also need to not be so strange in their dress, behavior, etc. as to be outcasts from any potential friends.


many people try to project how we live today on to old t.v.shows or movies. it is unfair to judge people who lived in a different time. i AM NOT saying this is what you are doing but it does go thing i really enjoy seeing in old movies is common manners and the social graces being displayed. to me these things seem to be sadly lacking today.


I so much agree Madman58.


I agree with you completely about expectations. (The same thing happened with Kathy on Father Knows Best.) However, in this case, when the family refers to Michelle as "he," Michelle insists to them that she is a girl. Later, she has a conversation with Katie in which she suggests that she had no one to teach her how to be a girl, and in the end she seems happy about the makeover.

So I would say that if Michelle had identified as a boy, or simply wanted to express herself in a masculine way, she should have been supported in that (apart from the violence, of course). But that didn't seem to be the case here.