Male parenting: TV is adopting more fluid gender roles

There are many things that come to mind when the idea of a male figure is evoked, but domestic life is rarely one of them. This may be due to age-old stereotypes, instilled in our minds by countless propaganda labelling men as the breadwinners and women as the housekeepers. This was the regurgitated image of modern family life, embodied in places such as American suburbia, which emerged in the 1950s. But is this how the media is portraying the modern man?

It was at one point. The television show I Love Lucy, which aired during the 1950s, depicts Lucy and her husband Ricky Ricardo as a classic mid-century couple – Ricky is the lead singer of a Cuban band, while Lucy is a housewife, and later a stay-at-home mother. While the show does not centre around home life, the characters’ roles are clear-cut and play into stereotypes.

As times have changed and the pathways men and women are expected to follow have multiplied, male media portrayal has expanded to fit a more modern reality.

Two shows in which men are depicted as good parental and domestic figures alongside female characters are Jane the Virgin and Modern Family. The male characters from these two shows have some common aspects: they all are shown as good father figures to their respective children while also still maintaining their careers.

Their situations differ, however. Some of them are single fathers, others have an adopted child, and so on. For example, Rogelio was absent for most of his daughter Jane’s life, but amply made up for it by being constantly present from the day he found out about her existence onward. Even though she is an adult who does not need raising, Rogelio makes sure to always be there for his daughter and to help her in any way possible.

Despite their differences and the fact that both shows are comedies, their characters are good portrayals of the modern father and how love, care and attention can and should be present in any situation.

Overall, I see more positive male domestic representation in current media in respect to that of the past, but there is always room for improvement. I hope that future media endeavours will continue this upward trend.

Image: CBS

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