Monday, September 9, 2013

Is your dad that stupid?

I admit, I haven’t fully researched it the way this duo did, but I do remember the first time I really noticed the way men were portrayed on TV. It was sometime around 2002 or so, when I was over at my parents’ house and happened to catch part of an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond.” I remember thinking at the time both, “Geez, that poor schmuck can’t catch a break” and “If that were my family, I’d kill myself.”

"Bumbling Dad" has become such a cliche that even TV Tropes has highlighted it. As they note, this archtype is present in just about every family based sitcom for at least the last 30 years, and many before that. Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you know what I’m talking about: Tim Taylor, Phil Dunphy, Homer Simpson, Hal from "Malcolm in the Middle,"-- the list goes on and on.

Think about it. When was the last time you saw a male character in a sitcom not portrayed as a bumbling buffoon?  From Archie Bunker to Ray Barone, men are shown as stupid, lazy, ignorant, ineffectual dolts who, more often than not, must be saved by their patient, kind, smart, capable wives.  What started off as a wink to the “woman who knows best by letting father think he knows best” as an antidote to the “father knows best” formula of the 1950s has gone far beyond that.

Portray a non-white race in a negative light?  Oh, hello, NAACP.  Women?  Guaranteed press release by NOW.  Jews?  There’s the Anti-Defamation League, right on cue.  But men?  Men are fair game.