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The Male Head of Household in Sit-Coms - a target of derision

sangha

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From the Simpsons, to Everybody Loves Raymond and on and on, sit-coms seem to adhere (for the most part) to a formula where the male head of the household is a childish fool, always getting into some kind of hare-brained scheme requiring his wife or children to pull him out of.

In another thread, some have speculated that this is the result of "librul media's" hostility to white men and support for feminism. However, the "foolish man" formula long predates feminism and liberalisms' supposed "control" of Hollywood. As far back as The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Honeymooners the male head of household has been portrayed as a childish fool in sitcoms.

I have my own theory as to why this formula is so popular, but I will withold it until I hear what some of you think about it.
 

Fisher

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They don't want to offend the women--they are the one's who buy the soap powder that pays the CEO's wages :coffeepap
 

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From the Simpsons, to Everybody Loves Raymond and on and on, sit-coms seem to adhere (for the most part) to a formula where the male head of the household is a childish fool, always getting into some kind of hare-brained scheme requiring his wife or children to pull him out of.

In another thread, some have speculated that this is the result of "librul media's" hostility to white men and support for feminism. However, the "foolish man" formula long predates feminism and liberalisms' supposed "control" of Hollywood. As far back as The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Honeymooners the male head of household has been portrayed as a childish fool in sitcoms.

I have my own theory as to why this formula is so popular, but I will withold it until I hear what some of you think about it.

Because it's funny. (Supposedly - I really can't stand any of those shows per that type of humor). If the supposed head of the household is an idiot - it makes for a lot of silly, funny, quirky, and stupid situations.

Women are also portrayed as overly strict, harsh, rude, crude, and stern in many shows for comedic effect. . . Or docile and super shy. Ever watch Rawhide? Or sexually crazed like Jersey Shore, (something) Housewives, or Sex in the City.

But now - I'm not sure what they're portrayed as. I just don't watch those shows, I guess. I'm stuck in a limited viewing world of Frasier and Dexter and anything else are kids shows like Windle and Vinnie - where a father figure isn't even around (actually - a lot of kids shows don't have parents at all. If the parents are involved they're usually both complete idiots and the kids are always up to all sorts of stuff they shouldn't be doing.)

All in all - it comes to a streak in everyone to make fun of authority. Some make fun of mother-figures. Others make fun of father-figures. Yet more make fun of parents in general. Teachers take a lot of hackery. So on, so forth - bashing the authority concept is always fun, it seems.
 

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Isn't it a classic topos to mock figures of authority?

If that's the case, then the role of the male running the family is probably not so uncommon yet.
 

Fisher

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Because it's funny. (Supposedly - I really can't stand any of those shows per that type of humor). If the supposed head of the household is an idiot - it makes for a lot of silly, funny, quirky, and stupid situations.

Women are also portrayed as overly strict, harsh, rude, crude, and stern in many shows for comedic effect. . . Or docile and super shy. Ever watch Rawhide? Or sexually crazed like Jersey Shore, (something) Housewives, or Sex in the City.

But now - I'm not sure what they're portrayed as. I just don't watch those shows, I guess. I'm stuck in a limited viewing world of Frasier and Dexter and anything else are kids shows like Windle and Vinnie - where a father figure isn't even around (actually - a lot of kids shows don't have parents at all. If the parents are involved they're usually both complete idiots and the kids are always up to all sorts of stuff they shouldn't be doing.)

All in all - it comes to a streak in everyone to make fun of authority. Some make fun of mother-figures. Others make fun of father-figures. Yet more make fun of parents in general. Teachers take a lot of hackery. So on, so forth - bashing the authority concept is always fun, it seems.

They don't care. You are not in the prime demographic. Getting 13-17 year olds to watch your TV program is more profitable than having 10X that number of mothers of 13-17 year olds to watch your TV program.
 

douglas

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It's comedic, that's why. Imagine the opposite; a foolish woman and a heroic man. It wouldn't show the reversal of traditional roles, which is the key to quick-hack comedy. It's easy to write, easy to act, and allows for mass production of sitcoms. A more realistic family dynamic simply wouldn't be funny in itself, and would require more work to make it funny.

It's a little bit more accentuated now, because of the overtly feminist lean of liberal media writers, but it really just comes down to laziness; it's a "it works so why fix it", sort of mentality. We can't really blame liberalism or feminism; as you already acknowledged, the trend is much older than that. In a way, it's the same force that drives the trend towards reality shows and game shows; they're easier to manufacture and more profitable for the investment.

The media isn't there to show a realistic depiction of the world, or to satisfy any sort of moral code, or uphold the "arts", they're just here to make money; Reality tv, Game shows, and Foolish-man sitcoms make money. That's what I think.
 

sangha

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Just to clarify, I was referring to sit-coms specifically (though comments relating them to other types of shows are certainly relevant)

And I think making fun of authority is a part of it, but moms are also authority figures but they are not portrayed as objects of ridicule the way the male head of household is (though, I have to admit, some sitcoms paint a less than flattering picture of wives - nagging, whining, shopaholics, etc)
 

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Again 13-17 year olds are the most profitable demographic for a TV show to hit. Advertisers will pay tons more money for reaching that demographic than they will any other. The second most profitable are 18-twenty-somethings. Nielsen is in the process of changing its ratings gathering system to try to capture a better representation of the teen viewing habits. They have added a C-7 category to their ratings (people who watch a show within 7 days of its original air date) and will this fall use things like twitter comments to determine what the kids are watching and when they are watching it. It is why a lot of TV shows have suddenly started putting hashtags on the screen--they want people to use those specific hashtags when talking about a show to make it easier for the ratings/marketing companies to track your social media discussion of the show as another way of measuring viewership since Nielsen runs a defective model to begin with, only hitting select markets and people with their spy boxes.
 
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sangha

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Again 13-17 year olds are the most profitable demographic for a TV show to hit. Advertisers will pay tons more money for reaching that demographic than they will any other. The second most profitable are 18-twenty-somethings. Nielsen is in the process of changing its ratings gathering system to try to capture a better representation of the teens viewing habits. They have added a C-7 category to their ratings (people who watch a show withing 7 days of its original air date) and will this fall use things like twitter comments to determine what the kids are watching and when they are watching it. It is why a lot of TV shows have suddenly started putting hashtags on the screen--they want people to use those specific hashtags when talking about a show to make it easier for the ratings/marketing companies to track your social media discussion of the show as another way of measuring viewership since Nielsen runs a defective model to begin with, only hitting select markets and people with their spy boxes.

Are sitcoms based on families popular with the 13-17 yo demographic. It seems like most of them are geared to people who are older than that.
 

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I have looked into this matter, and determined that the answer is to change the channel to Spike, and watch some UFC while drinking more beer.
 

Fisher

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Are sitcoms based on families popular with the 13-17 yo demographic. It seems like most of them are geared to people who are older than that.

Nobody publishes the 13-17 year old stuff unless it slips into a network press release. TV By The Numbers publishes the ratings in total households and the 18-49 demographic. My understanding is that it is outrageously expensive to get the meaty stuff like the 13-17 year old, M-F breakdowns and the contract with Nielsen to get that information may prohibit or at least limit its public distribution because they want to force people to buy it. I have chatted a few times in person and online with different people in the behind the scenes industry and they pretty much all concur. There are a lot of wonky things that matter more than total viewers as well like a show's pick-ups and how many minutes audience members watch of commercials before they surf.

MTV's ratings on first run programs ironically are in the toilet. Jersey Shore type programs were good for some quick cash but they have destroyed the brand of the network. Reruns of the Big Bang Theory will pull in 5 times the ratings of an original first run episode on MTV of one of their shows across total HH and 18-49 year olds when they air at the same time.
 

sawyerloggingon

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I honestly believe it is all part of Hollywood assaulting traditional values, morals and beliefs. They mock everything that old shows like Leave It To Beaver, Dennis The Menace, Donna Reid, The Rifleman, Ozzie and Harriet etc etc etc represented. A moral and intelligent loving father, a doting stay at home mother, a good marriage and all the rest that Hollywood libs despise.
 

sawyerloggingon

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All shows I have never seen because well or the most part I hate sitcoms and also it does not reflects the reality of today.

I think the stay at home mom thing has dissipated as moms needed to work to make ends meet but the rest of the family values old sitcoms portrayed are still with most families. Hollywood has done its work well with you sadly.
 

Aunt Spiker

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I'm more familiar with genres of literature as opposed to genres of shows.

Sitcoms are like The 50 Greatest Sitcoms of All Time

Very few of those actually fit your OP criteria. It seems that both you and I are just - perhaps - not frequent viewers. Most of those shows I haven't even heard of. I watched the popular ones from the 70's and 80's - nothing that's recent, and a lot aren't even family/marriage related. I'm surprised Scrubs and Night Court are on there - those are sitcoms?
 

Carjosse

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I think the stay at home mom thing has dissipated as moms needed to work to make ends meet but the rest of the family values old sitcoms portrayed are still with most families. Hollywood has done its work well with you sadly.

Why is it bad I expect my future wife to work and have a university education? I also believe you can have two loving moms and two loving dads. There is also the reality of step parents and siblings that really didn't exist back in the 50s or 60s.
 

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I honestly believe it is all part of Hollywood assaulting traditional values, morals and beliefs. They mock everything that old shows like Leave It To Beaver, Dennis The Menace, Donna Reid, The Rifleman, Ozzie and Harriet etc etc etc represented. A moral and intelligent loving father, a doting stay at home mother, a good marriage and all the rest that Hollywood libs despise.

If people didn't want to watch the newer style, they wouldn't be making enough money to stay on the air. You really think that changing tastes constitutes an assault?
 

sawyerloggingon

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Why is it bad I expect my future wife to work and have a university education? I also believe you can have two loving moms and two loving dads. There is also the reality of step parents and siblings that really didn't exist back in the 50s or 60s.

All that is just fine if that's what you want but most people want what they grew up with, a mom a dad and a dog named Spot.
 

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I honestly believe it is all part of Hollywood assaulting traditional values, morals and beliefs. They mock everything that old shows like Leave It To Beaver, Dennis The Menace, Donna Reid, The Rifleman, Ozzie and Harriet etc etc etc represented. A moral and intelligent loving father, a doting stay at home mother, a good marriage and all the rest that Hollywood libs despise.

True dat!!

What boy wouldn't want a dad like Lucas McCain or Andy Griffith?

Herbert Gillis? Good dad. Steve Douglas and Uncle Charley? Good guys.

We're not getting those moral stories out any more.
 

sawyerloggingon

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If people didn't want to watch the newer style, they wouldn't be making enough money to stay on the air. You really think that changing tastes constitutes an assault?

Changing taste? Now we are to the age old question, which came first the chicken or the egg? IMO Hollywood tries to influence American values not reflect it.
 

Carjosse

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All that is just fine if that's what you want but most people want what they grew up with, a mom a dad and a dog named Spot.

Well that has changed people grew up with working parents or maybe a single working parent because there was no one else. They also grew up with step-parents and step-siblings.
 

sawyerloggingon

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True dat!!

What boy wouldn't want a dad like Lucas McCain or Andy Griffith?

Herbert Gillis? Good dad. Steve Douglas and Uncle Charley? Good guys.

We're not getting those moral stories out any more.

I would like that but my damn like button stopped working.:lol:
 

sawyerloggingon

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Well that has changed people grew up with working parents or maybe a single working parent because there was no one else. They also grew up with step-parents and step-siblings.

Maybe so but there is no need to mock traditional happy marriages with good moms and dads.
 

Carjosse

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Maybe so but there is no need to mock traditional happy marriages with good moms and dads.

Yes there is because comedy works very well in a family setting and frankly having an idiot father is really funny and provides a basis for almost everything else.
 

sangha

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I'm more familiar with genres of literature as opposed to genres of shows.

Sitcoms are like The 50 Greatest Sitcoms of All Time

Very few of those actually fit your OP criteria. It seems that both you and I are just - perhaps - not frequent viewers. Most of those shows I haven't even heard of. I watched the popular ones from the 70's and 80's - nothing that's recent, and a lot aren't even family/marriage related. I'm surprised Scrubs and Night Court are on there - those are sitcoms?

Good point. I guess I should have specified sitcoms dealing with family life.
 
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