The other night Chris and I collapsed onto the couch to see what was on TV and caught an episode of the new show Modern Dads. We watched the entire episode in which a group of stay at home dads planned twin one year olds first birthdays. When it was over we turned it off and went to bed. Then over the next day or so the content of the episode marinated a bit. It turns out it really bothered me, but it was more of a slow burn bother than an explosion.
The name in and of itself is Modern Dads, in which I'd expect them to be relevant fathers who are competent care givers as opposed to pandering outdated views on gender and heterosexual relationship roles is insulting. It was a "big deal" that a dad was planning a party, the one dad was great at playing tea party but was about as skilled as the minions would be with a skill saw. Apparently you can't rock both "masculine" and "feminine" tasks.
When I Googled the show I found that it wasn't just me, other people felt the same way as I did. Maybe capable stay at home fathers just don't make for good television. The portrayal of Will Arnett's stay at home dad in the recently cancelled Up All Night or Anthony Anderson's in the other cancelled Guys with Kids showed intelligent father's running their families well. Maybe the world isn't ready for the Wrapkin just yet?* Or this is the big difference between reality television and failed comedy-vision. I don't just know.
It somehow felt the representation of fatherhood was akin to me likening my day at work to an episode of Mad Men, complete with an ass slap and sexual harassment to boot. I'm pretty sure Don Draper isn't lingering around the photocopier stoned on whiskey looking for love in all the wrong places at my office.
These inept caricatures of the modern father are perpetuated in real life when men are chastised for stepping up to their fatherhood role through taking advantage of their paternity time as shown in this Globe and Mail Article.
At the same time, I didn't turn the episode off and I may watch it again, even though it infuriated me. A long time ago a friend told me they watched reality television because it made them feel better about their lives and their competence. Sigh.
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*The Wrapkin was a characters invention on Guys with Kids. Essentially a smock to help keep your nice work clothes from getting ruined by children. Just last week, moments before I left for work, I leaned into some bbq sauce Jack had rubbed into the bathroom sink right before bath time the night before...A Wrapkin would have saved me!