Do TV's Drunk Dads Give Fatherhood a Bad Rap?
A parenting website says there's nothing funny about portraying dads as drunk, lazy buffoons.
Is beer-guzzling couch potato Homer Simpson your idea of a typical dad? Most dads on TV are bumbling, incompetent and alcoholic stereotypes, according to UK parenting site Netmums. But while these dads being the butt of jokes may be fodder for comedy, the trend reportedly has a “corrosive effect” on how the public perceives modern masculinity and fatherhood. About half the site's users polled said they found the media typically portrays dads as lazy and stupid, with a third regarding such portrayals as a “subtle form of discrimination.” Boozy dads from popular TV shows abound: from Homer to Family Guy's Peter Griffin, to Married With Children's Al Bundy to Frank Gallagher from Shameless. “It’s never been harder to be a father—but good dads have never been more needed by their families," says Netmums founder Siobhan Freegard. "So it seems perverse we are telling men to step up and be involved, while running them down in the media...Some people claim it’s ‘just a joke’—but there’s nothing amusing about taking away good role models for young boys.”
In reality, dads seem to be working harder than ever to avoid the Simpsons model of fatherhood. Of the 2,150 parents questioned, three quarters said the men were "more hands-on" compared to a generation ago, and nine of 10 dads polled said they're making an effort to be better fathers than their own dads. Two thirds of men report being happier having had children. “It would be nice to see more accurate representations that reflect the many fathers across the country that parent equally,” says Ross Jones of the organization Families Need Fathers. “When they see these negative representations it makes them feel the role of father is being devalued.”