There is a plague on societal portrayal of men—the Sitcom Dad. Al Bundy, Peter Griffin, Tim Taylor, George Lopez, Hal from Malcolm in the Middle, Doug Heffernan, Ray Romano are all good examples. The same traits are shared by all sitcom dads: they are cowed, half-men, fools who are mercifully delivered from their stupidity by their pedantic, infallible, pants-wearing wives. Every time they decide they should make a decision relating to the children, of whom they are woefully ignorant, the wife gives a sour, testicle-shriveling look of sheer passive-aggressive dominance. And good that she does, because should the sitcom dad think for himself he will invariably make a fool of himself, his family, and leave a mess (financial and otherwise) that the clearly superior wife must clean up.
This husband does not lead his household. If anything he is huddled in a corner hoping not to be consumed. He is not a warrior. He has no balls. He has no verve. He is just a 180 lb baby.
But what’s the problem with this portrayal? Is it not true? Well, feminist sitcom writers sure think so.
No, it’s not true. And not only is it not true, but it is damaging to men, the family as a whole, and the children who come to view their father as a patterned likeness of this as opposed to a paragon of wisdom and experience from which they should draw and learn.
First, this is a damaging portrayal because it signifies that men are stupid, weak, and needing of women to be marginally useful. Previous articles I have written dispel this theory in practice, if not entirely. Men are usually doing fine, and having a woman helps fulfill them, but they are not bumbling fools without them.
Second, what is a son to think of a father if he perceives fathers to be idiots unworthy of consideration? That son is missing out on a treasure trove of male experience and wisdom that might be gleaned earlier and when it is more useful. Youth is wasted on the young, that sort of thing.
Third, why would a woman marry such a man as the sitcom dad? He’s a wuss or a fool, or both. What should she find attractive about this? Why would a real woman want a man if she thinks she’s going to have to constantly harangue him to keep him from ruining their collective existences? I’ve, again, already written on how women benefit from marriage, so this is simply untrue in practice, and in theory in my opinion.
In my experience what I see far more of is not the Sitcom Dad, but rather the backbone of the family. The dad who works to provide a good living, goes to ball games, and recitals that he doesn’t enjoy, but knows his kids want him to be at. He talks to his wife, is decent in bed after 10 years of experience, and helps cook two nights a week. Maybe he doesn’t do laundry as much, but he does the yard work, spends a couple hours a week with the kids, and generally sacrifices his preferences so his wife and kids can have more comfortable lives than they would have without him. That’s one of the reasons women and children’s standard of living drops significantly after divorce, even with the courts stacked against men in divorce.
So don’t be dispelled by the alluring falsehoods of the Sitcom Dad. Hollywood hasn’t portrayed reality since the action-movie boom of the 1980’s.