When The Honeymooners started airing in the mid-‘50’s, it was the show with which the male audience related the most. Granted, not just men watched it, just like it wasn’t the only show that attracted such audience. But the point is that the Jackie Gleason’s masterpiece was the one which was addressing exactly the men’s problems.
First, it was the struggle of providing for the family, point in which it doesn’t matter whether it was a small family of two or whether it was a family with children. It was the time just after the WWII finished, so it is obvious that the times didn’t make things easier for the working man.
And this brings me to a second point, which is the social context. As said in a previous article, those times were also the times in which the traditional family values were changing to the core. The man’s position as the head of the family was challenged, so there was (in a way) an additional reason for anxiety.
The man wasn’t just supposed to provide for the family just for the family to survive. His role was also a defensive one, because he wanted to prove that he was still the worthiest to lead. Of course, this isn’t just a supposition but an accurate fact – a different kind of revolution was taking place, a mostly unseen one. The Honeymooners also talked about this.
If Ralph Kramden wanted to buy a new television set (or if he was scheming to become rich overnight), he wasn’t doing this with just a simple scope such as buying something new or something essential. His schemes were actually aiming at holding the woman down (so to speak).
These were also the times when the white-collar jobs were beginning to be paid better than the blue-collar ones (and Ralph Kramden was just a bus-driver). So it was a time when the man’s will was governed by the will of the team (or supervisor, or of the committee). This means that the man could only enforce his ideas (whether good or bad, whether intelligent or not) when arriving home, at his family.
I am not saying that women aren’t supposed to have any rights other than those pertaining to the life at home. I am saying that this shift of the values, or better yet this progress couldn’t have happened without being met with a certain amount of anxiety.
In a way, The Honeymooners talked about all of these. And I believe that these are the main reasons why it became so influential, whether we are talking about that specific period of time or whether we are talking without referencing the social context.