Saturday, April 20 2024

Although the family is usually the subject of famous TV series, often,
these do not tell fully and with authenticity what it means to “be a
family”. To make the episodes enjoyable and entertaining, for example, all
the difficulties and practical tasks associated with being a parent are
omitted.

Those who have no idea what it means to constantly live struggling with
children could never get an idea, through the series, of the fatigue that
bringing up children implies..

To say, for a single mother with three young children – particularly if one of them is less than a year old – it is difficult to find time even
just to drink a glass of water without being interrupted at least three
times.

This, however, is not even mentioned in many television series that talk
about family.

According to Jim
and the distortions of domestic life

To make an example, think of According to Jim, an American TV
series (produced from 2001 to 2009) exported to many countries: the protagonists are two parents with three children, one
of whom is only a few months old. The man is an architect, she is a
housewife. This series tells of their family life, but without showing that
when two people have children, everything revolves around them.

In the series According to Jim, the eldest daughters appear to
make the story fun, but they are not a burdensome commitment for the mother
– who has time to do anything whenever she wants – and the youngest child
hardly ever appears (you see the child in very few episodes). When he is
present, he behaves well, on the sidelines, inside a play pin with his
games, without crying or screaming for attention.

The episodes focus mostly on the relationship between husband and wife;
while the care of children is only “in the background”: although the
authors play a lot on the fact that Cheryl – so the wife is named – takes
on the full weight of family and domestic life, de facto, the fatigue that
the woman experiences, especially with the youngest child, is not shown in
the least.

You never see a mother struggling with a newborn that doesn’t sleep, that
takes 40 minutes to finish a bowl of soup, that cries relentlessly for no
good reason.

The result? A TV series that would have the potential to comfort the moms
who are exhausted by the end of the day, ends up seeming to be a lie and
therefore not credible.

Being parents: a tiring task par excellence

Being a parent is tiring, both physically and mentally. Particularly in the
first months of a child’s life, the tiredness becomes a constant for the
two parents: not only if they don’t sleep at night (this happens also and
then some days become possible horror film scripts); even under “normal”
conditions, a child sucks out a lot of one’s energy.

Characterized by a natural egocentrism, the newborn constantly calls
attention to its needs: to be fed, dressed, cleaned, cared for, guided in
his first movements. The child does not grant breaks or allow for delays…
he shows no mercy for the moods of adults, for he does not comprehend
circumstances and feebleness. All you can do to rest is to delegate the
care of the child to another for a few hours. A housewife who doesn’t use
external help lives on the same basis as her children and learns very
quickly that few things in the world cause tiredness like taking care of a
human being who does not answer for himself all day.

To make comedy does not mean having to hide the truth

A comedy, of course, is not a documentary… you cannot expect a television
series, whose purpose is to entertain the public, to focus on serious
issues to the point of exhaustion. What is certain is that you could take
advantage of the problems related to the supervision of children to make
comedy: instead of ignoring them, they could be used to create anecdotes
and situations that make people smile.

In this way, in addition to entertaining the viewers, it would be able to
provoke empathy in all those women who, often, are exhausted by the daily
grind and who, perhaps, feel a little alone with their small, big dramas.

If cinema and TV, like theatrical representations in the civilizations of
the past, have a cathartic purpose, why not exploit the power of catharsis
to motivate stressed women grappling with bottles, diapers and moods of
every kind? Why should a story about a family with three children overlook
these burdensome aspects of domestic life?

Seriously telling the life of a family, with all that it entails, could
prove to be much more fun than one might think…

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