Equally Shared Parenting - Half the Work ... All the Fun

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Here's where we keep you updated on news about parenting as it relates to division of responsibilities, career versus home decisions, work/life balance, and legislative and grass-roots movements toward equality or better choices for families. We'll also throw in our opinions of life as equal parents in a nonequal world, regardless of what's in the news.

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Equality Blog

Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Marriage Ref is Sad

NBC TV's new comedy, The Marriage Ref, premiered last week.  I don't watch much television, but I was drawn to check it out by the subject: the dissection of arguments between couples.  This is Jerry Seinfeld's new venture, and so I thought, "How bad could it be?"

So bad that it had the unfortunate side effect of depression and anger.

Yes, I know, it's a comedy.  Lighten up, Amy!  But I don't dislike The Marriage Ref for the usual reason other critics have mentioned - namely, that it is a deeply uncomfortable and not-too-funny mix of A-list celebrities with mixed-up lives ridiculing middle-class nobodies based on superficial taped material.  I agree, but what made me most sad/mad was that the whole show is based on gender expectations - and no one seems to care or notice.

We get to laugh along with a wife who orders her husband around in the home - not allowing him to use "her" formal dining room and expecting him to handle all the at handyman chores because that's what men are good for.  We're supposed to chuckle when host Tom Papa tells the couple that women rule the inside of the house and men rule the outside.  We're supposed to adore the celebrities that agree with marriages based on roles rather than relationships.

I thought the show was pathetic.  Anyone else have a different take?

Suppose I'd better check out Parenthood too, huh?


Blogger JohnMcG said...

Well, I've watched some of "16 & Pregnant," and the reality of male irresponsibility on display there kind of makes it hard for me to get my dander up too much about accusations of male irresponsibility.

The pilot of Parenthood was good, I thought. It seems to be correctly titled, unlike a certain magazine that is similarly named. XX Factor noted how it focussed on the fathers.

12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I watched only a little of "The Marriage Ref" and was similarly disappointed.

I don't follow John McG's comment "the male irresponsibility on display there kindof makes it hard for me to get my dander up too much about accusations of male irresponsibility" You are saying that you are numb to male irresponsibility because it is so prevalent on "16 and pregnant"?

I do agree with him, though, that Parenthood seems to be a step in the right direction. It really was focused on fatherhood, and in a real, down-to-Earth way, including a very poignant scene in the pilot where one boy realizes his father has no interest in him and his mother takes on responsibility for choosing a bad father for him. (More responsibility than she needed to, I think - why is the burden always on the woman to make decisions about parenting for both parents? don't men participate in sex as well?)

There is even some pretty good joint handling of problems by a mom and dad, when their son is having problems in school.

And my favorite scene was when the good father stands up to his dad and says "we are not going to raise him like you raised us - we are not going to make him think everything is a war." Pretty much says it all right there - about the value of down-to-Earth fathers and mothers and not getting caught in patriarchical roles which put men and women in perpetual conflict with each other and with children (especially fathers, who end up in conflict with the entire family, while the mother becomes a dependent like the children).

1:29 AM  
Blogger JohnMcG said...

No, I'm saying that 16 & pregnant makes it hard for me to stand up for men.

10:11 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

You are right - Parenthood is much better and I didn't see any obvious implications that moms are the better parents. In fact, as you point out, lots of hands-on fathering. Hooray!

2:01 PM  
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