Monday, November 21, 2011

A TV Flashback

While I was in the shower this morning, I had a sudden flash of insight - at least as much insight as can be had at that hour of the morning.

I was thinking about my favorite '80s TV shows, namely The Cosby Show and Growing Pains.  I had never before thought of the following fact: Both of these are families with greater-than-average numbers of kids, with moms who work in fabulous jobs outside the home, and with dads who are not only - get this - doctors, BUT they are at home for the kids.  They do their doctoring at home.

Wow.  Two career families that have the best of all possible worlds - lots of kids, immaculate house, and parents with precisely the right (aka - socially acceptable jobs) AND one of them gets to do their work at home. I've never met a doctor who had their practice at their home, but hey cool idea.  It's just that while both of these dads did depict life with their patients occasionally, their work never seemed really to conflict with their family.  Dr. Cosby could say "How far apart are they, Mrs. Herman?" and rush off to the hospital while Claire conveniently came home (no late night court cases or briefs to finish at the same time Dad had to be at the hospital).  Same thing with the Seaver family, living out there in Long Island.

It's not like I ever thought the shows were "real" - but on my childhood view, they did depict "real" things.  The fights with brothers and sisters, the attempts to do creative things that mom and dad would definitely not appreciate, were all part of my life. So was the "both parents working" motif - but not in an arrangement like that.  My experience of a dual career couple in my growing up years matches up with the experiences I have now, as an adult in a dual career relationship.  It's chaotic and a constant struggle to keep things relatively sane - just as I imagine my non-dual career friends experience - and it's also filled with a lot of joy, amid the busyness.

So I am left wondering two things.  Why the need to sugarcoat a dual-career family in the ways both of these shows did?  Why make kids believe that a doctor and lawyer can make a family of five work without (apparently) any other help?  The show doesn't need to be real, but at least it could set up some realistic expectations and expose the problems, as well as the good things, about being dual career.

Which leads me to my second, kind of related thought: people often raise questions about media's effect on culture.  Here's one where I wish media had had more influence - because I think it'd be great to have "doctors at home" or "lawyers at home" or other trades and professions operating in this way.  I think it would be healthier, on the whole, for people.

No comments:

Post a Comment