‘Leave It to Beaver’ Star Jerry Mathers Explained How TV Changed

by Jennifer Shea
Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Festival of Arts of Laguna Beach

The television landscape has undergone a seismic shift since Leave It to Beaver premiered in 1957. Now, with the advent of streaming – and even factoring in the decline of cable – there are more viewing options than ever before.

In a 2017 interview with 106.7 Lite FM, Leave It to Beaver star Jerry Mathers marveled at the show’s continued popularity even with the explosion of channels that consumers have to choose from. He explained that back in the day, audiences didn’t have much choice about what to watch.

“TV is now just so – when we were on, there were three stations that, they were all over the country, and maybe two in some smaller places,” Mathers said. “So now with, you know, 100 or sometimes more stations, it’s really, to us, just – we can’t believe that Leave It to Beaver is still on, and it’s still very popular, with all that media that we were not running against when we were on primetime. “

Watch the full interview here:

With the Rise of Streaming, More Americans Are Cutting the Cord

These days, an increasing number of Americans are cutting the cable cord and signing up for streaming services. Despite the fragmented and sometimes confusing streaming landscape, more consumers are taking their chances on lower-cost streaming options.

Just five years ago, 63 percent of Americans watched cable TV. By 2021, the share of Americans watching cable had dropped below 50 percent, according to a CBS News poll. Meanwhile, the share of Americans relying on streaming services shot up from 20 percent to 37 percent over the same time period.

Americans 45 and older still favor cable, but for the younger up-and-comers, it’s streaming all the way. In fact, streaming has increased among all age groups, albeit more sharply among the younger crowd.

Leave It to Beaver’s Staying Power Stems from Good Writing, Strong Cast

Meanwhile, Leave It to Beaver – which is available to stream on Peacock – has remained culturally relevant through the decades. While some people have mocked Barbara Billingsley’s June Cleaver for tending house in a dress and heels, others found the nostalgia factor comforting. And for Mathers and his co-star, Tony Dow, much of the show’s staying power comes down to good writing and good acting.

“The writers were so good and so was the entire cast,” Mathers told Closer Weekly in 2020. “And it’s a great show. I think it has sticking power, because everything now is color and all of a sudden you see this black and white show that just catches your eye. It was a good show with a good message.”

“They really tried to keep the show realistic and believable,” Dow told Fox News in 2019. “I’m a little biased, as all my other friends who are on other shows are. They think their shows are the best. But I really do think ours was special, because it was written extremely well. We spent a little more money on it than most, I believe, but it was just more realistic.”

Whether you chalk it up to realism, nostalgia or the show’s talented writers and cast, Leave It to Beaver shows no signs of fading away, all these years later.