Alas, poor Hollywood. Whether you regard it as a place or state of mind, Hollywood and everything it stands for are just so damned easy to satirize. This article is so on-target that reading it should be mandatory for all new TV scribes:
by Diana Cook
Hollywood is notoriously resistant to change. If something was found to be successful in the past, you can guarantee it will be played out over and over again — no matter how tiresome it becomes. For decades now, scriptwriters have relied on the same stock characters, cliches, and structures to produce lazy, formulaic films and shows that do little more than reinforce every negative stereotype about every segment of society imaginable. For example …
#4. Every Husband Is a Bumbling Idiot
In Hollywood, the typical family man is part Neanderthal, part doofus, and all-around annoying. Too often, sitcoms, cartoons, and movies portray the dad as a well-intentioned — yet woefully inept — man-child, whose wife has to play “mommy” to him as well as their kids. It’s as if we were to assume every marriage certificate comes with a full-frontal lobotomy for the husband. How did these men survive before they had a woman in their lives to keep them from walking into walls every five minutes?
The current poster child for the imbecile dad is Phil Dunphy of the TV show Modern Family.
While the award-winning show has been praised for taking a fresh approach to family dynamics, that unfortunately doesn’t seem to extend to the “tired, naggy wife and idiot husband” trope. From his cringe-worthy attempts at humor to his creepy advances on his own (step)mother-in-law …
… Phil is a clueless and, at times, tactless lout, and that somehow is supposed to come off as endearing? While I’m sure there are many out there who would disagree, given the popularity of the character, men acting like dolts doesn’t come off as charming as much as it does pathetic.
Another trait of the the dumb dad is his inability to care for his own offspring — as seen in the recent movie Mom’s Night Out.
When Mom decides to take one night out for herself, chaos ensues because, you know, Dad is an idiot. If you couldn’t stomach the full two-and-a-half minutes of the trailer, at one point, one of the mothers asks her husband what’s the worst thing that could happen to their children if he were in charge.
He sputters, “They could get maimed … I could lose both of them … It’s getting hot in here.” Really?
Why It Needs to Stop
In the fictional universe, “Dad” is too often portrayed as a nitwit, overwhelmed by simple concepts and put out when asked to participate like a grown-up. It’s insulting to men and also helps foster his overdone counterpart, the shrewish wife.
What person wouldn’t be driven to distraction if his or her spouse constantly acted like such an idiot? It’s a lame stereotype and completely removed from reality. The overwhelming majority of fathers and husbands aren’t incompetent half-wits who don’t know how to feed their kids or recognize social cues. Perhaps it’s a backlash from the Father Knows Best era, with its overabundance of patriarchal reverence, but the pendulum has swung so far to the other side that the middle ground, when it comes to representing the family man, barely even exists anymore….