The Contempt for Dads

I don’t take this stuff that seriously. Guys With Kids is yet another stupid sitcom.  I watched the pilot a few minutes ago on Hulu and read a review on the show in Esquire.

I’ll never watch the show ever again. Steven Marche’s assessment below of the show is spot on.

I get tired of the narrative of the bumbling, idiot dad who can’t take care of kids. As you can see from my blog, and if you just look around, you will see that it’s clearly not true. We are not the second parent and we know just as much as women do when it comes to caring for children. There is no manual that comes in a mother’s womb. The line in the show where the ex-wife says, “grew inside me” is an outdated way of thinking. She uses it as a trump card for decisions with regard to their child. She says this line as if to say , “Look, you can say whatever you want, but I am the mother. Since I gave birth to the child, I know best…”

Sorry but, if you never knew before, fathers know exactly how to raise children. We can care for them just as well as any mother. Child rearing comes naturally to fathers too. If I were in the show and my ex ever said that line, I would reply, “Started with my sperm…” I also find it interesting how, in the show, the divorced dad allows his ex to run all over him until the very end of the show. What a sucker. Sorry, but I hate to see this stuff. Why would he allow his ex-wife in his home without his permission? She even had an extra key made! Wow. I see a need for manhood training for ex-husbands, or soon to be ex-husbands. Too many men allow their future ex wives to take advantage of them – before during and after a divorce.

There are silly and slightly funny moments in the show, but I can do without the emasculating tone that persists throughout the show.

Good luck to the producers and actors, I guess. People need jobs in TV. I do like seeing Tempest Bledsoe. I used to like her in the Cosby Show.



Guys with Kids and the Contempt for Dads 

By Stephen Marche – Esquire Magazine

For a brief moment, I actually thought that NBC’s new sitcom Guys with Kids (premiering Wednesday night) was going to try to depict a real conundrum of modern fatherhood. The opening shot is a bunch of guys watching sports in a bar with babies in carriers on their chests. I’ve been in this situation on more than one occasion, and I thought, naively, that the show might present the true challenge of having a baby in a carrier at a bar: trying to piss at a urinal without getting it all over your baby’s feet. Unfortunately, Guys with Kids never gets close to any real-life modern-fatherhood situation, though it seems to want to.

Straight off, let’s be clear that this is not a show you want to watch. Ever. I have trouble imagining a situation in which you would sit through an entire episode. Maybe your arm has been pinned under a rock, and it’s the only thing you’ve got to watch? Maybe you’ve never seen television before? I don’t know. Anyway, it’s a shit sitcom, whose interest is strictly anthropological, as a guide to the fast-shifting attitude toward fatherhood in pop culture. There’s a recently divorced father, trying to work things out with his ex-wife; a clueless boy-man whose wife is at home; and, somewhat daringly, a stay-at-home dad with four kids. A lot of new television this season tries to guess what the successful part of Modern Family is and then replicate it. The New Normal thinks it’s the gay couple. Guys with Kids is putting its money on Phil Dunphy.

There are currently two ways to play up dads in comedies. One is as benevolent idiots. I’ve already written about that. The other, as in What to Expect When You’re Expecting, is as buffoonish Mr. Moms, people who are biologically incapable of taking care of children. I hate this. There are men out there who want to take care of their kids, who are good at it and who make impressive sacrifices to do it. They shouldn’t be mocked as if they’re freakish.

We supposedly live in an era of progressive gender roles, and yet shock at a stay-at-home father is a surprisingly predominant social reaction. Even Hanna Rosin had it, as she describes in The End of Men:

In “The Seesaw Marriage,” I mentioned that I was “startled” at the sight of a stay-at-home dad at my youngest child’s preschool making hand-printed t-shirts for the teachers. When I confessed to that reaction in introducing my female-breadwinner-couple survey in Slate, a stay-at-home dad who guessed I was talking about him approached me to ask what exactly was so “startling.” I had to think about that one for a while. In fact, he was one of the saner parents I knew. He brought in instruments to play for the kids, concocted cool art projects, biked his toddler daughter to school in all weather, and generally seemed to always be having fun and to transmit the energy of someone who considered himself lucky. Obviously it was not just men restricting themselves to a narrow set of acceptable roles, but the rest of us colluding to keep them imprisoned. He was right. Why should I, after all my research, be “startled”? Why should I be anything but delighted?

Television shows like Guys with Kids rely on the idea that men are not naturally nurturing, that they are not inherently child-centric like women. That is nonsense. Taking care of your kids is the definition of manliness. It’s as primordial as sex or eating. I believe that one of the best things about being a man today, as opposed to in previous generations, is that we’ve recognized how much pleasure there is in taking care of children. And I’m not just talking about fathers who have made the choice to be primary caregiver. The lawyers I’ve known have almost without exception added years to making partner in order to be home at bath time. Why do you think golf courses are in decline all over America? Which guy today wants to work all week and then miss his kids on Saturday, too?

Social attitudes about nurturing fathers are in mid-flux. You can see the change on television roughly every year now. Guys with Kids, though it is lazily formulaic in virtually every other regard, has at least managed to capture one new part of the current reality: Men want to be dads. Unfortunately, the fact just isn’t complicated enough to be funny

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