Why is Marriage Portrayed so Negatively on TV?

jeff dunham and walter

Image from commons.wikimedia.org

My husband was watching a Jeff Dunham special on TV the other day, and one of the show’s characters, Walter (a grumpy old man puppet), made a remark that really made me upset. He was talking about his wife said something to the effect of, “When you’re dating, all you want to do is make out in the car. When you’re married, all you want to do is run her over with the car.”

Now, I know it’s just a joke coming from a silly puppet, but I think that’s completely besides the point. It certainly wasn’t the first time I’ve heard someone on TV make a remark about how much they hate their wife. Al Bundy made some kind of comment to that effect each episode of Married With Children. More common themes include men complaining about how all their women do is whine and nag, spend all their husbands’ money, and took their freedom and fun away.

Is it becoming OK to despise your wife? To the point you joke about killing her?! What on earth does it say to still be married to this woman then? I would hope that if a marriage got to that point where you can’t stand your spouse you would no longer be together. Although I do believe divorce is becoming too much of an easy escape in times of trouble these days, but that’s a whole separate blog post.

That comment from Walter was even more painful for me, thinking of how a man, an actual man (Jeff Dunham) wrote that joke. Jeff himself was married for many years, and now is divorced. Maybe he’s just bitter and writing jokes fueled from that emotion, but that doesn’t make it right. Or funny.

I know there’s plenty of other shows on TV that do portray marriage in a better light, or at least in a more real way, but those are few and far between, and I doubt many impressionable youth are tuning in to those shows. I’d like to think that these off-color comments are not making their way into the minds of young people (and adults!), but I’m sure to some extent they are. The more you see or hear something, the more you start to believe it.

It makes me sad to see marriage, which is such a wonderful thing, joked about. Marriage is hard and each couple will have their arguments and issues, but never should it be OK to make comments about how much you hate your spouse. Marriage is sacred. You say your vows to this person to love and honor them till death do you part. (Cue another joke from Walter about the death part.) I don’t know about you, but I meant mine.

Is marriage just a big joke to Hollywood? Doing some quick Googling while writing this post, I found an article that said television can affect how we feel about marriage and our own spouse. I know it’s true to some extent for me. I love the TV show, King of Queens, and in that show, the wife Carrie is often nagging and making fun of her own husband, calling him fatty and other less than loving things. I don’t call my husband names, but I do find myself nagging more than I should, possibly because I see it so much on TV, so it becomes more “acceptable.”

But at what point did it ever become acceptable to make marriage a giant joke? Your spouse the object of ridicule and hateful remarks? I, for one, don’t like it one bit. Not that I know what to do about it, or what my point was writing this post, but I just wanted to get that off my chest. Phew.

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TV wives and moms I admire

I know that TV and movies often don’t portray the real world…even reality TV isn’t so realistic. But maybe that’s why I like it so much. Regardless, there are some people on TV that I absolutely love for various reasons. A small handful of women on TV I really admire. Some are actual people and some are just characters, but each of them have qualities that I wish I could embody. And even though some of the shows and situations are fake, I think each woman is genuinely a good person and a good mom/wife.

-Linda Belcher, aka the mom from Bob’s Burgers. I love stupid, crude humor, and that’s why I love this show. Every single episode makes me genuinely laugh. The characters are simply fantastic. Tina is my favorite of them all, but I also really love Linda because I kinda wanna be like her. One, because of her random outbreaks of song. Two, because she loves her husband and loves her kids and would do anything to protect them, but she also has her own life and realizes that she has to let them screw up in order for them to grow.

-Claire Dunphy, aka the mom on Modern Family. Phil, Claire’s husband is my favorite character, but again, Claire is the kind of mom I hope to be. She’s kind of like the more frazzled version of Linda Belcher. She’s trying so desperately to balance parenting and being in her kids’ lives while re-entering the workforce, dealing with her accident-prone, well intentioned but kind of ditzy husband, and so many other family dynamics. Despite her overstressed and trying-too-hard exterior, she really cares about her family and admits that even she has a lot to learn about it all. And she’s deeply in love with her husband, despite his sometimes obvious flaws.

-Roseanne Conner, aka the mom from Roseanne. Again, I really feel like Roseanne is a very similar mom to Linda and Claire. She loves her family so much, but lets them screw up. I don’t want to call it a hands-off approach because it’s not, but it’s also not micromanaging. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t worry about them, because she does, but she also has to be a parent while working a job she doesn’t really love but tries to make the most of it, and with a husband who has his own issues, and they have their struggles, but they always make it work. I also like how she admits to her struggles, and they’re worked out in a more accurate way than in other TV shows. It seems far more real to me than how it is on shows like Family Matters and Full House (albeit great shows as well, but just not very representative of how real people deal with real life).

-Tia and Tamera Mowry. This will likely not be the first post in which I gush about these girls. I absolutely adore them. I liked their show Sister Sister growing up, but it’s their new reality show, Tia & Tamera, that made me fall in love with them. They are both just so genuine. They are kind and nice and friendly and down to earth and just awesome women. They don’t seem like they’ve let fame define them, and they’re still real people, and very relatable. I admire how open they are with their lives, the decisions they’ve made, their insecurities, their careers and their relationships. They have struggles too, but the deal with them the best way they can. But even when they’re down, they always maintain their sense of humor. They love to laugh, and they love to love. I think they’re great moms and great wives (though in very different ways from each other). They just make me so happy, and I want to be their friend. When I watch their show, I feel like it’s an hour I get to hang out with my girlfriends. They make me laugh and they make me cry.

What famous women (real or characters) do you admire?