I likes me some reality TV. I usually stick to the classics like Survivor, The Amazing Race, and The Real Housewives. I add new shows that appeal to my interests, like Dance Moms, or have great commercials that suck me in. (My husband can always tell which commercials I’ve seen by which restaurant I pick for dinner.) When I saw the ads for The Week the Women Went (Lifetime), I was intrigued. First, reality TV, so, duh. Second, I’m very fired up about the media portrayal of dads as being complete morons. See? My brain still functions despite the TV addiction.
I recorded the first episode and then saw that it was hosted by Jeff Foxworthy. I almost immediately deleted it, but I decided to watch anyway so that I could see if it fit the usual media mold for dumb dads. The choice in host told me this was a real possibility.
The show takes place in a small town in South Carolina. The premise is that all the women over 18 leave town for a week to see how the men cope without them. Foxworthy sets the scene and declares secrets will be revealed; it’s a social experiment of Biblical proportions….ooohh! Right off the bat I’m disappointed because it doesn’t look like a parenting experiment; it looks like, well, reality TV.
The ‘characters’ range from a mother who has never been away from her kids to a zexy cougar who leaves her three teens with her 20-something Marine lovah. We have an oversexed loudmouth mom and a single mom who actually should have been on Intervention. (She says the only thing keeping her from getting into another abusive relationship is the regular customers at the failing restaurant she owns. Did I mention the 13 year-old daughter will be in charge of that restaurant for the week? And also the restaurant is in the older daughter’s name to get rid of a deadbeat boyfriend of the mother’s? Welp.) The men stay in town alone, and the women hit a resort with a pool in Amelia Island, Florida.
Current score? Women-Everything, Men-Less Than Zero
Just in case single parenting doesn’t make the men look stupid enough, the show has thrown in some challenges. The main big surprise is that the men have six days to throw a beauty pageant for all the little girls in town. That sounds fair. It’s totally a typical event in my average stay-at-home-mom life.
One of the dads works for the railroad and is normally gone all week. He states he is looking forward to spending a lot of time with his kids. He does not sleep a bit the first night because he’s afraid he won’t hear the baby cry. So he’s tired, but he’s happy, because he knows it’s special to be home. In other words, he loves his kids. Which is weird because I’ve been taught that men just love sports and see their parenting responsibilities as wiping their kids’ butts on the kitchen counter. Is it possible TV has led me astray?
It seems that all the men act like humans who are in an extraordinary situation that tests new skills and throws off their normal routines. They freak out when the kids cry at bed time and then apologize later and sleep in the kid’s bed because they know the kid is just missing Mommy. When my husband left town for 15 days last February, both boys got sick, and I served cereal for dinner in front of all of the cartoons ever made. On day two. In other words, I did not handle it well. I am a stay-at-home-mom who could not handle the extra hours without another adult around.
These men were set up to fail. They were put in a situation that was tough for any parent, but it was made to look like they were having trouble because they are men. And that’s why I couldn’t watch any other episodes. I liked most of the dads. They seemed like regular, loving guys. The daddy of 15 month-old twins had the sweetest interview about how his wife deserved a vacation, and he hoped she was having fun and not worrying. He was concerned that she was not taking care of herself because she is such a devoted mom and wife. He clearly sees what his family has going on.
He is, for example, not the kind of dad who needs no less than 325 Post-its to remind him to put the Go-Gurt in his son’s lunch. He may need one note about what goes in lunches since he is not the regular lunch-maker, but he does not need to be treated like an idiot.
I am sure Yoplait thinks they are very clever with this new campaign. Procter & Gamble fumbled their Olympic ads by only thanking moms (And only stay-at-home-moms at that). Yes, moms make a lot of the buying decisions in situations where P&G products are an option, but this was dismissive of what dads do for their kids. And Huggies dropped the sensitivity ball with their “Let Dads Put It to The Test” commercial. So, here comes Yoplait telling us that a good dad gets that his kid needs healthy food like squeezable dairy products. He gets it because the lady of the house told him what’s up. So, yeah, he’s dumb otherwise.
I’m ready for this stereotypical, fumbling, moron dad thing to go away. It irritates me on behalf of my husband and on behalf of my life in the real world. I have learned a thing or seven or 20 from my husband and how he raises our kids. I’m sure he’s learned a thing or two (about obsessive worrying) from me. We work together. We have to, or the kids will win.
Listen, if you’d like to show a parent managing poorly with no help or needing 325 visual reminders of an easy task, call me; I look great on camera. Just leave my husband alone. He’s busy teaching our boys how to make the perfect pancake.