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Curious portrayals of men today

At the risk of dating myself, I grew up watching television shows like Father Knows Best, the Walton's, Leave it to Beaver, the Andy Griffin Show, Happy Days, the Beverly Hillbilly's, Green Acres and the Brady Bunch. In most of these shows, father was portrayed as wise, unselfish, courageous, rational and largely unflappable. Granted, Oliver Douglas, the lead character from Green Acres was sometimes portrayed as a self important gas bag and Jed Clammpet the lead male, character from the Beverly Hillbillies was sometimes guilty of an utterly implausible naivet .

Mike Brady, the father from the Brady Bunch not only always knew exactly what to do and say to his wife and children; he delivered his always enlightened words with the soothing and modulated cadence of an empathetic psychotherapist. Mr. Brady's knowledge was so broad that once, when the family visited the Grand Canyon, he was able to tell the children about the rich traditions of the Hopi Indians of the area in a way that would have put a tour guide to shame.

Contrast these portrayals of men as wise and rational with the male characters of King of Queens, Everybody Loves Raymond or Home Improvement, to mention just a few.

Tim, the lead character from Home Improvement is largely a self indulgent buffoon. He has little to offer his wife or children in the way of family leadership. In fact, Tim is often rescued by his wife and children. Tim is helplessly bereft most of the time while he attempts to express himself as a self described "macho man."

Raymond, the male lead in Everybody Loves Raymond comes closer to being any ordinary person, albeit a "child-like" adult. Raymond spends much of his time trying to figure out his marriage and more specifically his high performance wife. Raymond's parents are ever present in his life and persistently insert themselves in ways that certainly undermines him and, not coincidently, his marriage. Raymond has no insight into this obvious and destructive intrusion by his parents.

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