So, when did masculinity / fatherhood start to be portrayed in such a way?

To all you good people, especially those who have more years under their belts…

When did masculinity and fatherhood start to be such a joke, as portrayed in media today.
Peter Griffin? Homer Simpson? C’mon…

Did it start with ‘3’s Company’? or before that even?

What is your take on this and do any current TV shows give us masculinity / fatherhood in its proper form?


I think it started with that loser “Walter” from Maude back in the early seventies. When the networks found out they could get cheap laughs from the woman dominating the household, it was on. The worst example is “Al” from Married With Children. :stuck_out_tongue:

You probably don’t want to look to sitcoms for serious portrayals of anyone. I mean really, who would want kids if looked to shows like Family Guy?

Well…I must admit that the Family Guy ‘Star Wars’ episodes are family favorites.

As much as I try to counsel my kids on what is funny and what is not appropriate I worry about the mixed signals, My boys are 15 and 13 and I am noticing just how really bad a lot of this stuff is.

When they were younger and watching Disney, Nickelodeon, etc…It dawned on me that the parents on theses shows were absent, and when shown…the dads were doofuses (sp?) and the moms were obviously running the show because dad was an idiot.

I have to admit I do not like sitcoms… hate them in fact… I agree they always seem to portray the dad as either a couch potato ( vegetable being the operative word here ) or a yes man to the mom… I can’t speak about this Family guy as I have never seen it… thankfully … from what I have heard…

I have seen in shops “man bags” and “guy liner” Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!
Facial creams for men… By the way hehe… how do you moisturize a beard stubble??? LOL :rolleyes::eek:

I’m not normally a fan of blaming the '60’s for everything, but in this case I think the image of fatherhood/masculinity started to turn then as part of the rebellion against authority. If you recall the late '50’s / early '60’s, you had reasonably strong - and knowledgable, and authoritative - father figures such as the proverbial Ward Cleaver and the dad on Father Knows Best. At some point TV fathers morphed into bumblers and bigots (Archie Bunker). As the Western TV genre disappeared, so did typical strong, masculine roles and characters. Golly I feel old . . . . . . .

I was just thinking of Archie Bunker…my dad loved that show. Was he really a bigot or just grumpy and un-informed? I don’t recall really. What about Green Acres?

It’s interesting that both “Maude” and Archie Bunker have been mentioned. The character of Maude actually first appeared on All In The Family, the show which Archie Bunker was on. Both shows were created by Norman Lear - I think he has to bear a good deal of the blame for the decline of standards on television. He apparently hated conservatives and traditional values - hence the character of Archie Bunker, who typifies the worst kind of bigoted, ignorant loudmouth.

I miss Fred MacMurray.

It goes back further than the '60s, TV, or even radio. Probably even further back than Dagwood Bumsted, a man who is constantly out-smarted by his dizzy wife, kids, and even his dog.

Al in Married with Children was bad. However, there were always henpecked and submissive husbands…Maggie and Jiggs in the comics…(OP…is that back far enough? :D) Molly on THE GOLDBERGS was the center and her husband was passive.

Archie was ignorant but the family still moved around him. MOVING ON UP was similiar from a black viewpoint.

The old Andy Rooney movies had the “Pop” as the center who was the go-to-guy who always came through with class. I REMEMBER MAMA was wonderful with both parents on an equal footing. FATER KNOWS BEST,ane LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRARIE also had the Dads as the heads.

I think the reality shows are awful and show how far the family has sunk. Love to see one man on the show, dad or husband, say, “That’s it. We’re out of here!” The women and kids run around being obnoxious and half nude. And what is with Bruce Jenner?

I used to be indignant about the way comedy TV portrays men. Then I grew enough skin to see what’s really going on. It started when Americans realized it was OK to laugh at themselves sometimes (I’m not sure that was common 100 years ago. Heck it seems that people rarely smiled in photos back then!). At that point, TV comedy writers used the material theyknew best: themselves. Look closely at those pathetic TV dad shows and read the writer credits at the end. They’re almost ALL guys. They know male foibles and enjoy caricaturing them. They also know they’d get their teeth kicked out if they attempted to poke fun at women by caricaturing them, so it’s less common. Let’s face it, Homer is funny precisely BECAUSE we can at least a little bit relate.

It’s just not as sinister as you think. Maybe the problem isn’t that men get made fun of too much, but that women are still too touchy about their foibles for it to happen to them? Or perhaps it’s just that not enough TV comedy writers are women, so the guy writers just don’t have that material down as well? Or some of both…

In any case, we have larger problems than Homer Simpson out there…

I think it started with “All in the Family”.

It may have started with Fibber McGee from the old radio series, Fibber McGee and Molly

Then again, since their act began in vaudeville, perhaps the roots are even older.

Television-wise, Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton in The Honeymooners springs to mind. Those episodes originally aired in the 1950s

I think the real turning point was Home Improvement with Tim Allen. Prior to that, a lot of these TV dads were either kind of unique for their time or such blatant caricatures that nobody would realistically view them as somehow characterizing an actual father figure (Al Bundy, Homer Simpson). Tim Allen, while cartoonish, was presented as more realistic. While sympathetic in some ways, he was an absolute, bumbling fool. He tended to be the butt of nearly every joke on the show and was about as incompetent as a person could be. The only semi-strong male figure on the show was Wilson, the wise but faceless neighbor. So the only competent male figure was a dehumanized, faceless figure nobody could realistically relate to.

It seemed like, after Home Improvement, most family-based sitcoms that followed used the same basic structure of a bumbling fool of a dad/husband surrounded by similarly foolish males who either relied on their wives & girlfriends to resolve all their problems, or were only successful by the dumbest of luck or through some other sort of providential intervention (Everybody Loves Raymond, King of Queens, etc.). Many commercials even took on a basic pattern of the foolish/mindless/inept male countered with the confident, omni-competent female who found the keys, fixed the car, saved dinner, etc. all with a wink and a “not again” roll of the eyes at her impossible “man.”

Combine that with the movies of Adam Sandler, Will Ferrel, etc. which all seem to follow the same basic formula of the bumbling man-child whose only successes are at the most inane, childish endeavors and you’re left with the current view of a “real American male” as some confused idiot blindly stumbling through life, whose only real successes (outside of passing grade school again, out-drinking the local frat boys, and coaching the local kids soccer team to a losing season) can only be attributed to his wife/girlfriend and/or children.

It’s no wonder that, in my experience at least, so many “adult” males strive for these low goals and struggle not to exceed them, while many others (men & women alike) look down on and are even offended by a man who strives for something more than a kick-*** party, an awesome beer bong, and marathon sessions of Halo or Rock Band.

They didn’t, because it took a long time for a photograph to be taken and the subject had to hold very still for several minutes… it was easier to keep a straight face than a smile. Doesn’t mean they didn’t have a sense of humor or knew how to enjoy a good laugh.

Good responses, everyone! Thanks…

Some of these shows I have seen, some I have never seen. Now that I look back, I’m surprised that ‘All in the Family’ was such a favorite of my dads…he was very devout and never had a racist or bigoted attitude. Maybe it was because Edith reminded him of my mom!

Anyway…I read a good book last year titled “The Death of the Grown-up” that outlined some of the decline and basically blamed it all on rock-n-roll in the 50’s.

And as for Bruce Jenner…I’ll always remember him the way he was on the Wheaties box!

Did the womens lib thing have anything to do with it? Did men voluntarily become too soft as a reaction? In real life…not on TV…

How about Tim’s friend and co-host, Al Borland? I would say he was quite competent.

Asian shows about families tend to do a somewhat better job than their American counterparts in the character development and comedy departments.
For instance, the typical mother-in-law in some Korean dramas (“Unexpected You” is a perfect example) would have problems with her counterpart in the other family.
Meanwhile, the typical father-in-law tends to be calmer and less prone to nitpicking.

It isn’t just on TV shows, but in commercials also which portray men as stupid bunglers. I know it’s done for humor, but we’re subjected to a constant barrage of images portraying males acting like fools.

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