Thursday, January 31, 2013
My 6 year old daughter has taken to watching reruns of the TV classic Leave it to Beaver. I couldn't help notice the plot of many of the episodes have to do with the well meaning dad (Ward) bungling up some situation. Well, that was the late 50's / early 60's. Surely the media's perception of fathers has evolved since then. Sadly, I feel its gotten worse.
Lets look at some TV dads. Well, there are the dads from the world of popular TV animation: Fred Flintstone (The Flintstones), Homer Simpson (The Simpsons), Peter Griffin (Family Guy). Now what characteristics do these guys have in common? Incompetent? Check. Lazy? Check. Slobs? Check. Leave the parenting up to the wives? Check. See, I told ya. This proves it. Dads are morons.
Those are all cartoons, you say? Well, okay then. Lets look at some other popular TV shows with dads. All in the Family, The Cosby Show, Everyone Loves Raymond, Married... With Children, Modern Family, Family Ties, the list goes on. In fact, almost every american sitcom family is headed by a well intention-ed, but seemingly, witless father.
Well, those are all comedies. They're there because its funny - right? Well lets look at some popular dramas with dads - like, perhaps, The Sopranos? Well he's a murdering mob boss. I know! What about Don Draper from Mad Men - you know, the alcoholic guy that's absent from his family and cheats on his wife. There's Breaking Bad. A show about a father who loves his family so much that he's willing to become a drug dealer in order to insure his families financial well being. Perhaps Dexter, the title character of which is a psychopath who's father instructed him the it was okay to kill other people as long as they were bad, instead of getting him psychiatric help. Heck, even look at reality shows. American Chopper, Jon and Kate Plus 8 anyone? Shall I go on?
Its no wonder that we men aren't trusted to be alone in the same room as our kids. Look at what TV has taught us about the competency of fathers. Now, I'm not saying that these shows are bad, or that you shouldn't watch them. Oafs make people laugh and men making bad decisions can make for compelling drama. I get it. I just find it a shame that this stereotype exists and that it is so pervasively reinforced by the media. Or is it that the stereotype exists because of the media and people in general reinforce it. Regardless, I have made it a goal of mine that if anyone were actually to film my family life it would be the most unfunny, undramatic show in the history of TV.