Saturday, 29 September 2012

The Step Father

There has long been a stereotype of stepmothers in the media and film- evil bitches, right? Probably not. Some of them, maybe, I don't know many.... but that's not my gripe. And don't get me started on mummies in kids films- usually dead, often absent. But that's not my issue either.

It's Step Fathers that get a really crappy go of it in films. What is that about?

My husband is a Step Father. A great one. It's a hard job. It's not always a bowl of awesomeness. So, why does Hollywood need to make it more difficult by providing zero positive, realistic portrayals?

In Hollywood, a stepfather is usually a well meaning doofus, (Liar, Liar, Mr Poppers Penguins, 2012,).
Or a mega-rich (sometimes older) jerky dude (Run, Fat Boy, Run, Taken, What Women Want, Night at The Museum). 
They usually love the kids involved, sure. But they are really only a bit of set dressing that serves it's purpose in the first third of the film. In these films, the poor hardly done by Daddy is the hero. 

The Step Dad disappears when Mummy and Daddy inevitably get back together in the last scene. Is it really necessary to ALWAYS get mummy and Daddy back together?!?! In real life, there are very good reasons why mummy's and daddy's are no longer together and usually they would have no business being anywhere near each other. And Daddy's aren't always pathetic losers who are pining for their ex wives. They move on too.

Can anyone tell me of a film where:

  • Mummy and Daddy break up
  • Mummy remarries Step Dad
  • Step Dad is a nice, cool guy
  • Kids love Step Dad and Daddy
  • Kids see Daddy regularly 
  • Mummy and Step Dad live happily ever after

The only exceptions I can think of are on TV:
Mr Brady
Carole's first husband never showed up to woo her back. It was the fifties, so it was never really clear exactly what happened to him. He was probably dead. That was much more proper than divorce.

But the winner by far:
Jay Pritchett 
On Modern Family, Jay and Gloria are happy and in love. Manny loves Jay and Jay has worked to create a good relationship with him. It hasn't always been easy. Gloria's ex Javier is flaky, but Jay never speaks badly of him to Manny and respects that he is Manny's dad. Javier has no intention on trying to win Gloria back, and if he did, I am sure she would have no interest in it! LIKE REAL LIFE.

Why is Hollywood set on perpetuating this negative narrative? Is it a conservative, moral majority belief that kids should be raised by their biological parents? Is it just an easy, hackneyed storyline that bad writers use? I know that Hollywood and the film industry are in no way a realistic representation of life, and its all just for entertainments sake, but for the love of Mike Brady, give the Step dads a break!

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  1. I love, love LOVE Modern Family for that very reason - it's REAL life! I love how it's taken a while for Manny and Jay's relationship to develop. And yes, agreed. I love how Jay never bags out Manny's dad.
    I'm from an Indonesian background and over there movies about step parents are almost as scary as horror movies. Well, back then they were, anyway.

  2. Here here!

    I have no experience in these matters, but, you are so right! Step dad's do get a bad rap!

    We need to start writing a screen play for a movie... That sounds like a hoot! I will bring my inappropriate sense of humour and naivety and you can bring your experience and wit...


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