One more thought on bent and broken television before I move on. I was originally going to include this with my discussion of Without a Trace, but it didn’t seem to fit, and I now feel that it merits it’s own entry.
How many television dramas portray happily married couples?
As I am writing this the only show that I can think of is Seventh Heaven. I am sure there are others, but contrast my list to this next one.
How man television dramas portray discontent marriages or divorces?
My list is: Without a Trace, Law and Order, CSI, Desperate Housewives (just a guess, I have actually never seen an episode), and I am sure there are more not to mention the countless marital problems on the daytime soap operas.
Marriage is being attacked. Maybe at first it was in the courtrooms, maybe at first it was a small movement. But now you can’t turn on a TV show without marriage being a huge problem for many of the characters.
Also, if you watch closely, TV also seems to say that marriage will only get in the way of one’s career. The sentiment is that marriage and career are mutually incompatible. Even though millions of Americans have proven just the opposite, TV still can’t portray a working person with a happy marriage.
By TV portraying marriage as the worse part of society, people are less likely to pursue it as on option. Instead the will seek alternatives. You know the option of the highly successful (please note sarcasm here) living together arrangement (separation rate is significanlty higher than marriage). Or there is the even less effective single for life option (age of death decreases significantly for singles).
I am not sure what TV gains from non-married couples (perhaps they spend more time in front of the TV without the commitment, I know I would). But there is a definite message being sent by TV, and that message is, that marriages don’t work, so don’t even bother.
Most of the successful marriages are portrayed in comedies, and the only reason that these are successful is because the dad is so stupid and the wife always saves him (but that’s another column). These marriages are usually fairly solid (i.e., Home Improvement and Hope and Faith) but often is a brunt of the comedy. However, there is a big move towards portraying marriage as negative (i.e., Two and a Half Men).
The reality is that marriage works. Most people who are married are happy. Sure they have hard times (and TV should portray these hard times), but usually people bounce back and love each other more after an argument. Instead, television likes to portray divorce as the only option and that marriage is always doomed for failure.