The Case For TV Dads.
Welcome back, Simpletons!
The lads are back again for another episode of the Simple Minds Podcast!
Matt’s brought in a special topic curated for the guys by Producer Boy Josh!
Dads in television have something of a bad wrap in how they’re portrayed. It's an unfortunate fact and something that seems alarmingly prevalent considering the growing nature of TV and how it's changed so much in the last 10 years, as we enter a second "Golden Age" of home entertainment.
So, without further ado, let's jump straight in!
A Streaming Good Time
It’s safe to say that media has changed a lot since the “golden age” of American television in the 60’s and 70’s. We’ve got a lot more screens to look at and a lot more variety in content to consume. Media portrayals of people have changed with that as well, more women are becoming visible in mainstream media, not to mention stories featuring more marginalized groups of people gaining greater popularity.
Gone are the days of old-school television, where there were strict rules on what a person could or couldn’t do in a story, with formulaic creations going so far as to have specific rules on how films and tv programs could be edited.
It’s a great time for television as an industry as well, with many referring to the current era as a “Second Golden Age” as people have been able to move away from the more traditional ways of getting their entertainment via broadcasting corporation, such as Foxtel here in Australia and the mythical “cable” of the United States, and embraced streaming providers like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.
As a result, television content for the average viewer is much higher in quality and variety, exponentially so even. With pressure on content creators to follow a proven path of success becoming lessened and the variety in stories, themes, characters and styles of storytelling increasingly massively.
The "Dadliest" Catch
So, what with all of this sudden change to content creation and delivery, why is it that certain archaic portrayals and stereotypes still hang around in today's writing tropes?
Now, we could talk for ages about the plethora of different stereotypes that are around, we certainly wouldn’t be the first or last. But, because most the lads (except Justin) are dads themselves, having a chat about the stereotypical dad in media seems like a good place for us to start.
Now, you may be asking yourself, what stereotype for Dads exists in the media?
Well, think of it this way, what does Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin, Phil Dunphy, Al Bundy, Daddy Pig, and Ray Barone have in common?
“They’re all in comedy shows!”, one of undoubtedly says.
Yes, thank you smartass. Let's try again.
What do they all have in common?
They’re all idiots. They’re all clueless about their children and all operate like manchildren themselves. Now, sure, there are varying degrees to this idea, Phil Dunphy of Modern Family is, for the most part, a good father that is loving towards his children, unlike some of the other characters presented. But much of the show's humor is still based heavily around Phil's lack of competence and childish behavior.
Homer Simpson is probably the egregious Dad of them all, having been around long enough to cross a few generations. In fact, much of Homer’s behavior has become so iconic that it’s often synonymous with the standard idea of what a dad is, or should be, in a comedic situation.
For the most part, these dads have usually been the primary butt of many jokes, being slovenly and stupid in their portrayals, incapable of most basic tasks around the house and routinely told what to do by their much more intelligent and exasperated wives.
Similarly, when positioned as a parent to children, many dads are often treated as antagonists, often trying to stop children from their goals or having fun.
“I’d never really thought it that much until I was shown the list of fathers in media and, if I'm honest, it’s left me really ashamed and upset that that’s how men are being portrayed.” - Conrad
Time for the Blues
It’s not all bad though, some portrayals of Dads are beginning to change over time. The best example, of course, being the Dad shown in the ABC kids program Bluey, which has skyrocketed in success off of the basis of it’s positive and stereotypes free portrayals of many of its characters.
Blueys Dad, in particular, is shown to be a great father that, while goofy, is very much a caring and compassionate parent that encourages his children in their adventures.
Similarly, Bluey’s Dad also manages to break the mold considerably by being a stay-at-home parent, something seldom, if ever, seen in mainstream portrayals of dads in the media.
"The only "Bluey" I know about was the "blue movies" that would get passed around by older men when I was a kid" - Conrad