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Why do television writers enjoy making fathers look ineffective and foolish?

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Big companies spend millions of dollars on advertising every year. They do so based on the belief that if people see or hear something enough it can affect how they think and feel. If this is true, many television writers may be helping to destroy the traditional role of fathers in families. Situation comedies are notorious for portraying fathers in a negative light. Fathers in sitcoms are often portrayed as bumbling idiots, inflexible tyrants, or as unnecessary members of households.

The attitude toward fathers on television has taken a turn for the worst since the days of Father Knows Best ( As mothers on television became more substantial in their roles, the fathers on television became less intelligent and more emasculated. Many television shows portray fathers as the target of every joke. Homer Simpson is the embodiment of the dim-witted father in animated sitcom The Simpsons (

Even an iconic father like Heathcliff "Cliff" Huxtable played by Bill Cosby on The Cosby Show ( was kept in check by his wife and was often conned by his children. Even a family friendly network like the Disney Channel is occasionally guilty of portraying fathers as foolhardy. Bob Duncan, played by Eric Allan Kramer, is often taken advantage of by his children on the show Good Luck Charlie ( His wife, played by Leigh-Allyn Baker, is portrayed as being more feared and respected by the three oldest children on the show. Finesse Mitchell's character Darryl Parks is clueless on the Disney Channel show A.N.T. Farm ( His lack of good sense is especially disappointing because Darryl Parks is employed as a police officer.

The smarter the mothers and children become on television, the dumber the fathers seem to become. If they're not just plain dumb, sitcom fathers are frequently close-minded or unreasonable. When television fathers aren't making complete monkeys of themselves, they're often making bad judgment calls for which they end up apologizing by the end of the episode.

Is there an attack on fathers, in the situation comedy television genre'? If so, why? What do television writers want viewers to take away from shows that portray fathers as incompetent? Perhaps the dumbing down of fathers on television is unintentional. However, a good conspiracy theorist might conclude that the comical, yet negative portrayal of fathers is an effort to diminish their traditional role as the head of the household. If showing something on television over and over doesn't have any influence on how people think, why would businesses spend so much money on television advertising? If what viewers see on television does shape their perceptions, it would be encouraging to see more television fathers depicted as involved, intelligent role models.

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