April 14, 2013

TV for Thought: Arrested Development of the Child

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Arrested Development on May 26! All my never-nudes unite! Just kidding, I’m not a never-nude … I promise. Anyway, due to this joyous occasion I have begun the series once again to brush up on the Bluth family saga. And it remains just as refreshing as my first run through the series which begs me to wonder why any network would kill this show. Such is the case for some other great television shows like Happy Endings or Community that currently grace my lineup, but I digress.

So in my Bluth binge, I came across a gem (granted, the show is chock full of them, but this one made me think more than simply laugh). In the episode, Michael (Jason Bateman) decides to give George Michael (a young cherubic Michael Cera) more responsibility at the family’s banana stand. Well, George Michael asked for more hours to avoid his attractive cousin, Maeby (Alia Shawkat), but instead his father asked him to hire her as his employee as he was made manager. Things were off to a great start.

While at work, Maeby got bored and convinced her dopey cousin to go to lunch using money from the register. While at lunch George Michael saw his aunt and grandmother dining as well, causing him to freak out. When Maeby asked why, he replied, “They’re grown-ups. They’re allowed to have fun whenever they want. We’re kids. We’re supposed to be working.” Although this comment flew under the radar compared to the rest of the hilarious jokes the show is usually laced with, it made me wonder how true George Michael’s observations are.

Kids are always seen as this sight of innocence and playful freedom. Even as they’re given more and more responsibilities into their adolescence so as to prepare them for the “real world,” kids still are not given all that much credit. Moreover, as all of us can attest to for having gone through the whole application process, high schoolers are constantly under the pressure of going to school, getting a job, accruing as many extra-curricular activities as possible and, oh yeah, grow up. Despite these exceeding expectations — that continue to plague us, I may add — grown-ups continue to write our responsibilities off. These responsibilities do not end when you leave “the workplace” either.

I also do not intend to belittle the responsibilities of adults. Hell, I am scared of my graduation day when a little paper decides that I should be capable of entering the professional job market and fend for myself — or that I’m free to move back into my little attic at home and continue to laze around until my parents finally kick me out. I know it’s not easy going to work, pay the bills, feed myself, clean, get married, start a family, etc. Regardless, there is way more freedom involved to make time for oneself.

In addition, sometimes the responsibilities of adults spill over onto children. For example, how many older siblings had to take care of their younger brother or sister at the most inopportune moments? We didn’t have the kids; our parents did. But that argument never goes over so well with mom and dad (or whatever kind of guardian you have). And what about chores? They are also “adult” responsibilities that are pawned off on children to teach them, but sometimes it feels like it’s more a combination of exercising power and utter laziness. Kids just become miniature adults without the freedom to opt out when necessary.

Like I said, I do not mean to oversimplify adulthood to certain landmark responsibilities. Likewise, the responsibilities of a young person should not be overlooked either. I may not have experienced adulthood fully, but we can all vouch for how over extended we can be. Even in high school, I remember pulling all nighters to finish a paper and study for a test (while then it wasn’t all that common, it is now the only way to function). With the constant pressure to over-achieve and super stuff resumes, we forget that kids need time for them to kick back and unwind as well. Stress does not discriminate based on age, so don’t belittle the stress of working as a child. But better put by my friend Pierre from Simple Plan, “I’m just a kid and life is a nightmare!”

Original Author: Natalia Fallas