What’s so modern about ABC’s hit comedy, Modern Family?
None of the caregivers on the show have an outside job. One is comfortably ensconced in the affluent middle class with her realtor husband and three children, and the other, a young Colombian woman, is married to a rich guy at least 25 years her senior, and lives in a mansion with her trophy husband and her young son. Even the male who has the principle childcare role in the gay relationship stays home to care for the couple’s adopted baby!
If this were truly a modern family, there would be issues relating to the difficulties of working while being in a loving relationship and raising a family in America in 2011.
A one-income family with children is a rarity today. Between 2008 and 2010, the number of stay-at-home mothers fell from 5.3 million to 5 million. (Stay-at-home dads held steady at around 150,000.)
If the show was a bit more realistic and portrayed six working adults, at least one, possibly two, would be bullied by a supervisor. They would be experiencing potentially severe emotional stress and anxiety and fearing termination in this poor economy. Their angst would spill over to their relationships with their significant others and children, in turn causing them angst. And it might even drive the target to drink!
Possibly the family depends upon the partner’s income to pay the mortgage, light bill, or school tuition payments. All of these things ultimately would be threatened by the bully.
The women would be paid 20 percent less than their male counterparts for the same work – and significantly less than women workers without children who didn’t take time off from their careers. These parents would be forced to make endless difficult no-win choices between their work and their children. Many working moms even today come home each day to start their second “job” of running the household – making dinner, cleaning, and taking care of the kids.
Let’s get real. Half of all relationships end in divorce. These at-home spouses do not appear to have any jobs skills and/or they’ve taken significant time out of their careers. Are they completely clueless about what is going on out there? According to a 2011 research report by the Family Research Council:
- Mothers who were not in the workforce before the divorce are very likely to experience poverty following their divorce.
- Divorcing or separating mothers are 2.83 times more likely to be in poverty than those who remain married.
- Following a divorce, the parent (usually mom) with custody of the children experiences a 52 percent drop in his or her family income.
It’s not a pretty picture for the children either. The FRC says the children of divorced mothers are less likely to earn incomes in the top third of the income distribution, regardless of where in the income distribution their parents’ income fell.
But none of this is occurs in the magical land of automatic sprinklers of Modern Family, which, come to think of it, is just about as modern as Leave It to Beaver, Daddy Knows Best, and The Dick Van Dyke Show.
Let’s just hope the girls and boys who watch the show each week do not believe what they see, and expect that they too can be part of an affluent one-income household in a posh suburb where a white knight brings home a fat paycheck every week.
I don’t want to pick on Modern Family, which is a sit-com, and funny at that.