September 19, 2013

TV for Thought: Kids, We’re Moving In

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We get it. Let’s blame moms and/or dads for our character flaws. Later on we will accept them as our own and appreciate what they’ve done for us. It’s not that we’re completely ignorant of the sacrifices and ungrateful for the time and energy (and money for this wondrous institution) that they have invested. We’re just at that age where we are “finding” ourselves and do not necessarily like all that we discover. But that can be a topic for another day.

Anyway, it seems that the theme of this fall’s sitcom premieres is fraternizing with the parental unit in adulthood. Apparently, it’s just as frustrating as it was when you lived under their roof the first time around. From FOX’s Dads to CBS’s Mom, we get both perspectives. Since only Dads has premiered so far, let’s delve into that.

In the show, two friends (played by Giovanni Ribisi and Seth Green), who are video game developers, have to deal with fathers who have re-entered their lives because they have screwed up and are now homeless. One of the biggest fears that college students and parents alike have is the failure to move out. We all know that the job market is still suffering, causing many of our generation to move back in with our parents and seemingly revert back to adolescence rather than move forward to adulthood. It’s a “their roof, their rules” type of thing. But what happens when your parent, the one who supposedly should have his/her shit together, has to move in with you, and it’s not because they are old and retired? It’s not like they need to be taken care of per se, but you still need to rein them in, and the role reversal does not go over too smoothly. Parents are too used to dictating to you rather than having it the other way around.

Then there is the overall resentment we may feel towards whatever their shortcomings were as parents when we were growing up. At one point in the pilot, the two friends have a contest to see whose dad was worse. Their grievances aren’t necessarily common, but we have heard them all in television before from the dad leaving the mom for a younger model to forgetting a birthday (I know I have had both of my parents forget my birthday, but not for the full day — although my dad did get my age wrong one year). In any case, we all have the need to show off to others why our parents specifically are the worst or the best growing up. Obviously for comedic purposes, it is better to capitalize on their faults, but in general, why do we just look at the bad side? Granted, there are plenty of parents who do not deserve the title and do much harm emotionally, physically, etc. to their children. However, parents are not always that bad, despite their embarrassing antics and incessant nagging. Then there are some people who simply cannot connect with their children during their youth, but can when they’re adults, and vice versa. Parenting is not an inherent trait, I believe, and unfortunately you don’t have the power to give a job description and list of demands at birth. As my aunt says, “Tough noogies.”

Apart from the slightly interesting premise, Dads really failed to deliver in any other department. Seth MacFarlane continues his losing streak with this dud of a show. I hope that Mom, with Allison Janney and Anna Faris, proves to be better, but it is a Chuck Lorre-helmed show, so its comedy shall most likely be quite derivative as well. Still, it would be nice to see the dynamic between a mother and daughter compared to the father-son one in Dads.

Also, I forgot this disclaimer: When I say parents, I extend the definition to anyone who has “raised” you in one way, shape or form. You know, just trying to keep it PC.