What Kind of TV Parents are We? (Infographic Included)

Jason-Maggie-Seaver-growing-pains-5110661-402-512

My wife and I have talked before about which TV parents we are most similar to. We quickly decided that Jason and Maggie Seaver, of the 1980s sitcom Growing Pains (1985-1992), best represent us.

It seems like most TV sitcoms of the 1980s revolved around some kind of amendment to the traditional nuclear family.

Like a wise-cracking alien joining the Tanner house on Alf. Or Uncle Jesse and Joey joining the Tanner House on Full House. And don’t forget how neighbor Steve Urkle basically lived with the Winslows.

But with Growing Pains, there was a nuclear family in which the parents loved each other, and unlike most sitcoms since the 1980s, the dad wasn’t an idiot.

Plus, there was no outsider who is adopted into the family; unless you count the final season in which Leonardo DiCaprio joined the cast, but I figure most of us had stopped watching by that point.

The parents were intelligent, hard-working, and sensitive to the children’s psychological needs. Though that sounds like a pretty normal thing to feature on a family sitcom, it’s not.

Writers on sitcoms often can’t handle a happily married couple with kids. If nothing else, the writers have to kill off one of the parents.

Danny Tanner’s wife died after a drunk driver hit her, on Full House.

Then DJ’s husband died while fighting fires, on Fuller House.

And then if both parents are still alive, the dad is by default, an idiot: Homer Simpson on The Simpsons, Al Bundy on Married with Children, Carl Winslow on Family Matters, Tim Allen on Home Improvement

I would actually argue that the Seavers were actually the most normal, life-like family in the past 30 years, in a sitcom. That’s the simple reason that I believe that Jason Seaver best represents me as a TV dad, and Maggie Seaver represents my wife.

Below is a related flow-chart asking, “Which T.V. Mom are you?”

(Because I fully recognize that the majority of the readers of my blog are not male, but instead female.)

Thanks to Berries.com for this graphic.

Which TV Mom Are You?

My Conference Call With Kirk Cameron Today

I kept assuming it wouldn’t actually happen- that somehow there would be some kind of technical difficulty get the call through.

Kirk Cameron and Nick Shell

Fortunately, I was wrong. I indeed was on an hour long conference call with Kirk Cameron today.

Obviously, I’ve been reviewing movies for a while now, from a family friendly perspective. That means that sometimes, like with 23 Blast, I am even asked to review the movie before it even arrives in theatres.

That is the case this week with Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas.

While the majority of the call revolved around his new movie, he was able to speak a lot about other things.

He spoke a whole lot about his family; his wife and 6 kids! I could tell Kirk is truly a family orientated guy.

That’s what he talked about more than anything, actually; his family. Oh, and he loves Christmas!

He mentioned how living out in California, or as he calls it, “the land of fruits and nuts,” (a reference to food, not people) his family is definitely health-conscious, but referenced his loved for Southern style biscuits; as he recently visited the Duggers (19 Kids And Counting) as well as the Robertsons (Duck Dynasty).

Kirk contributed a lot of his health consciousness to his wife; Chelsea Noble. He loved talking about her; explaining how they met on the set of Full House.

His mother who happened to be there because Kirk’s sister Candace was there for taping, encouraged Kirk to find a girl like Chelsea who was “even more beautiful on the inside than the outside.”

Eventually Chelsea played Kirk’s girlfriend on Growing Pains and a year later, he proposed.

When asked if Kirk missed the days of Growing Pains, he laughed, with no relectance, to say no; comparing that part of his life to high school.

I could tell he wasn’t at all annoyed by the Growing Pains mentions, but his focus is clearly on his family and his faith. He has moved on with his life.

Kirk does, however, keep in touch with Jeremy Miller, who played Ben; and occasionally Alan Thicke and Tracey Gold.

Saving Christmas

The main takeaway from my conference call with Kirk Cameron was that he’s far from a has-been. It’s evident he’s doing much more meaningful and remarkable things in his life now than ever before.

He’s humble. He really is. I heard him talk for an hour.

It wasn’t about him; it was about family and God the whole time.

Now, it’s time for me watch his new movie Saving Christmas so I can write a review for it here on Family Friendly Daddy Blog; which is sort of the whole point of my conference call with him!

Stay tuned for that…

Show Me That Smile Again, Don’t Waste Another Minute on Your Cryin’

There’s no around it.  We  lived through a couple of decades of gathering around the fake wood grain Zenith TV on shag carpet to watch what we knew as the American sitcom.

Laugh tracks.  Freeze frames to conclude the episode.  Inspirational advice during the 23rd minute of the episode accompanied with soft and cheesy keyboard music (made famous by Danny Tanner and Uncle Jesse).  Annoying catch phrases like “Did I do that?”  And most importantly and best of all, their wonderful theme songs that are so just you just want to cry, which featured a few seconds of footage from each main character for that season as the show came on.

That was 1977 through 1997.  Two solid decades of pure delight.

But these days, what do we consider to be the 30 minute sitcom?  The Office.  30 Rock.  There are others, but certainly the list doesn’t go on like it did in the days of Mr. Belvedere.

Now the theme songs don’t have words.  And we have to figure out on our own when to laugh.  And typically there’s no moral lesson to learn.  Just ironic humor.  By the 28th minute of the episode, the characters are not necessarily any better off than they were when the plot was introduced at minute 3.

But those good feelin’ sitcoms of the 1970’s, ‘80’s, and ‘90’s can never be revived.  Because we as an American audience have outgrown them. We couldn’t take The Office seriously if there were laugh tracks and if at the end of every episode Michael Scott gave Jim a heart-to-heart talk about what it takes to be a good leader.

Our preference of comedy has evolved from lighthearted insults and sight gags to dry humor stolen from the British.

Speaking of irony though, we live a double standard.  What we will not accept in modern comedy, we still accept in reruns that come on in the evenings right before our new shows.  Shows like Friends and Seinfeld which followed much of the old-school traits of sitcoms, though they weren’t family sitcoms.

We differientiate:  It’s 6pm and laugh-track infused Friends is on.  Something in our subconcious says, “It’s okay, that was the ’90’s.”  Then a few hours later 30 Rock is on and we hold it to a different standard.  We’re more sophisticated than we were at dinner.  Because we have to be clever enough to get the jokes of our dead-pan humor queen Tina Fey.

What caused us to change what we accept as humor?  The dynamics of the modern family.

Something that has a lot to do with explaining why classic family sitcoms have disappeared from cable TV is The Disney Channel, which is now included with basic cable.  But when we were younger, it cost extra every month.  So back then ABC, NBC, and CBS had to make sure the majority of their comedies were family sitcoms. 

Now, kids can watch their corny shows like iCarly in their own bedrooms while their parents watch something cooler in the living room.  Man, I miss Tony Danza.

Free Marriage Advice

In the past year and a half since I’ve been married, I have gained valuable knowledge, and therefore I live by it.  And now as I pass it on, it now becomes advice.

Back before my wife and I were even engaged, we decided to use Everybody Loves Raymond as the prime example of what our relationship would not end up like.  Because by default, maybe it would.  But through daily conscious effort and with an intentional mindset to be counter-cultural, I am convinced that marriage can be better than the mundane and miserable American stereotypes.

We subconsciously decided that if we were to model our marriage after a married couple from a sitcom, there were some better options out there.  The Huxtables from The Cosby Show.  The Keatons from Family Ties.  And the Seavers from Growing Pains.  Heck, even Mork and Mindy.

Though I hadn’t read a book since college, it was the months leading to our marriage that I suddenly became interested in soaking in as much advice and knowledge as I could from the professionals.  Books like For Men Only, For Women Only, Does This Dress Make Me Look Fat?, Yup Nope Maybe, and Men are Like Waffles-Women are Like Spaghetti.

I don’t know how men and women could begin to truly understand each other and point out the differences between them before these books came along.  But I was born in the right year, so I got to benefit from them.  The core of what I learned and what I’ve applied since reading them is this:

Men can really only focus on one task at a time; they are not multi-taskers.  They are problem-solvers.  What men want more than anything from their wives is to be respected (to be privately and publicly acknowledged as a good man, not a bumbling fool).

Women are multi-taskers.  They are better equipped to handle all the detailed parts in life that men to tend to neglect.  What women want more than anything from their husbands is to be loved (to feel cared for and understood, listened to, and to be reaffirmed of their beauty).

Being aware of these differences, my wife and I both understand that being wired differently, our wires will get crossed occasionally, leading to a classic misunderstanding involving hurt feelings and/or pride.  We know not to assume that either of us is wrong or right, because that’s what leads to an argument.  It’s not a contest, a game, or a battle; it’s a matter of getting on the same page.

We know not to raise our voices, not to be sarcastic, not to talk over the other person, not to interrupt, and not to leave the room as a means of escaping or trying to gain control by getting the upper hand.  We know to say “I feel and I think” instead of “you are or you did”.  And we always know to never say “you never” or “you always”.

Another thing we decided back when we were just dating was that we would become like those old couples we see sometimes that are still in love.  Not just still married, but still in love.  Being affectionate throughout the day is of upmost importance for us to become one of those old, sweet married couples.

“Just you wait, that’ll all change…” That is what I am told from the Nay Sayers.  The ones who say that I’ll stop randomly buying flowers for my wife once we are “out of the honeymoon stage”.  The ones who say that my wife and I will stop being affectionate once the kids come.  Once “life happens”.

I’m sorry that those people have settled for the Everybody Loves Raymond standard in their marriage.  I guess it works for them.  But I see it as a set-up for potential failure.

A couple years ago I heard my pastor say something I’ve never heard before.  In the countless couples he has counseled where one of the spouses cheated on the other in the marriage, he said that it’s almost never over sex, though sex is what makes it official.  Instead, it was about companionship.  Friendship.

The cheating spouse was not getting something from their marriage partner, so they found someone who would give them what they craved.

Often it’s attention.  Often it’s someone who will not make them feel judged.  Often it’s positive reinforcement.  Simply put, it’s someone who lets them know everyday they are special.

A healthy marriage means that the husband and wife never stop dating.  It means the honeymoon isn’t over, despite the year of the wedding.  It means that the wedding was the beginning, not the end, of true romance.

The Books