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'Modern Dads' Fosters Insulting, False Father Stereotypes

A&E’s new reality series “Modern Dads” follows four stay-at-home fathers, whose portrayals seem to be a backward step in moving away from the incompetent father stereotypes often shown on television.

The show, which premiered Wednesday night, appears to view fatherhood from all angles and features a single dad, a stepdad, a new dad an experienced dad.  However, none of these men seem to be able to separate “being a guy” from “being a dad,” reports NBC News.

 “TV generally has been terrible at portraying fathers,” said TV critic Marc Allan. “Even the best of dads – Jim Anderson of ‘Father Knows Best’ or Ward Cleaver of ‘Leave It to Beaver’ – were scattered or jumped to conclusions too quickly.”

Meanwhile, the mothers in the show are portrayed as both breadwinners and competent parents.

 “This trend seems to perpetuate the dusty stereotype — and lazy joke — that the women of the household are expected to hold things together and properly parent kids, while the fathers are hapless man-children, all thumbs when it comes to folding Huggies and lax at exacting discipline,” said Matt Webb Mitovich, both a father and an editor for “It seems obvious that the recurring note handed down by network execs is, ‘But where's the fun in a father who knows what he’s doing?’”

Allan agreed, saying “Homer Simpson is funny. A dad who’s involved in his family’s activities and shares in the housework and child care isn’t.”

Mekeisha Madden Toby, a TV critic, blogger, wife and mother said portaying anything different than an incompetent stay-at-home dad would “upset the status quo.”

“It's funnier, easier and more predictable to show dads messing up and dropping the ball,” she said. “Not because moms don't do this too — because we do — but it's less of an indictment when dads are imperfect. Dads aren't expected to be super human. Moms are.”

A&E did not respond to requests for comment.

Source: NBC News

Photo: Richard Knapp/A&E


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