Jacqueline Wheeler of Radio Times reported from across the pond today about two television programs in England about fathers, and it left her wondering if they were fair portrayals of fatherhood.
Channel 4’s Daddy Daycare puts fathers whose wives are unhappy with their performance into the fire. “Nearly half of all British mums feel their partners don’t do their share of childcare,” says the Daddy Daycare site. “In this series nine dads are sent on a crash-course in parenting at busy nurseries.” Wheeler notes that first of all, putting anyone – mother or father – into a nursery isn’t really a trial by fire so much as an unrealistic lesson in parenting.
What’s more is that when the show gets into some of the fathers’ back-stories, you find that they’re not completely shirking their duties as fathers; “workaholic Garry has MS and is ploughing all his diminishing time and energies into building a financially secure future for his children,” says Wheeler. Another father, Stefan has resisted creating a family because his own father let him down, and Stefan is afraid to repeat the pattern with his own child.
It would seem from Wheeler’s description that Daddy Daycare is just another “reality” show that begins poking fun at people for a particular reason, but finds along the way that they’re actually – gasp – also human, and they act a certain way because it’s all they’ve known in life.
Wheeler also mentions the BBC’s A Dad Is Born: A Wonderland Film. The show “follows three men in the weeks before and after the birth as they experience the steep learning curve of becoming father and find their place in the new pecking order.” Though this show looks to be more honest about the emotional side of fatherhood, Wheeler says the show is “manipulative” in suggesting that the more wealthy fathers are less involved with their children.
Wheeler concludes that whatever you think of the programs, they serve to prove that fathers are not just a demographic, they’re also people. Which, I think we can all agree, is what us fathers are after.
If you’re in England and watch these shows, let us know if you think they’re a good portrayal of fathers or not.