Prior to the turn of the century, many kids spent time in front of the television watching some of the best '90s shows. One of those shows was the Animaniacs, which many young fans probably never realized are a nuclear family metaphor. If that just blew your mind like an Acme cannon to the brain, a nuclear family is a traditional family model that includes two parents and any number of kids. Think Leave It To Beaver or The Simpsons. There are no external family members like uncles or grandmothers living in the same home and a set of values is shared.
The theory about Animaniacs as a metaphor for nuclear families centers around the Warner brothers and sister. Yakko, Wakko, and Dot are siblings with similar values (and of course, humor) who live in the Warner Bros. studio water tower and find themselves on crazy adventures which, for the most part, they undertake as a family unit. In many ways, much of the Animaniacs subtext resembles a nuclear family, especially themes about bonding and working together. You may have laughed at the jokes and gags as a kid, but you probably overlooked these weird similarities to a nuclear family.
Generally, the children in a nuclear family fall into certain roles according to their birth order, and the older kids take a leadership role over the others. Yakko, who is not only the tallest, but the oldest, acts as the leader of the Warner tribe. Wakko is the middle child who doesn't quite fit in and has adopted clownish behavior to deal with it. Dot, the baby of the family, is used to being showered in attention and treated with special care.
Like some other youngest children in nuclear families, she also knows that she has a special place, and constantly reminds people of her cuteness.
The huge cast of Animaniacs includes pigeons, lab mice, a giant chicken, and even a mime. All of these characters round out the show by adding their own brand of zany, but other than brief cameo appearances, none of these characters really interact with Yakko, Wakko, or Dot.
Like a nuclear family, relatives do not live in the same home and are not involved with family members on a day-to-day basis.
A nuclear family shares a home, be it a house, condo, or apartment. In the Warners' case, it's a water tower. In fact, they've shared a communal space for over 70 years from the time that they were locked up to when they escaped in the '90s.
The inside of their home can be seen on screen a few times and its tricked-out interior decor may explain why they were content to stay put. Who'd want to leave their home when they've got their own roller coaster and waterfall?
After escaping from the water tower, the Warner brothers and sister are pursued by insane psychologist Dr. Scratchinsniff, sexy assistant Hello Nurse, bumbling security guard Ralph, and the irritable CEO of the studio in a strange attempt at childcare. Like a nuclear family, babysitters (or anyone else whose purpose is to keep the children controlled) are usually not related to the family, and step in when the parents are away.
This keeps the immediate family from being dependent on family members outside the core.