More research is needed to fully understand the way in which parents, particularly fathers, are portrayed in family films and the effects those portrayals might have. Viewers, particularly parents, need to understand how the material their children view presents reality and how it may shape their children's perspectives of the real world, particularly where the family unit and parenting role are concerned. By exploring these portrayals through the lens of Cultivation Theory, this study sought to answer this overarching question: How are fathers portrayed in family films as opposed to television? This quantitative study explores the top twenty films from the 1980s, the 1990s and the decade spanning 2004-2014 in order to ascertain this. Families within those films, particularly parents and most specifically fathers, are the primary subjects of study. Observations were made through content analysis. The findings show that fathers are portrayed more positively in family films than they are on television. The data suggest that the differences between fathers and mothers in film are not so marked and sexist as they are in television shows, and that fathers may exert a stronger and more positive role in film families than they do in television families. This study begins to establish film as a genre to further be explored as a medium for family relations studies as television has been. Film is a powerful media tool in its own right and should further be studied with regard to portrayal of families in its material.



College and Department

Fine Arts and Communications; Communications



Date Submitted


Document Type





children, content analysis, Cultivation Theory, film, George Gerbner, parent centrality, parent maturity, parent portrayals, parenting style, presence, television, content analysis



Included in

Communication Commons