Fox Massacres Mother's Day
BY CHRISTOPHER GILDEMEISTER
May 11th was Mother’s Day. In a
Harris poll conducted on May 7th, nearly half of Americans stated
that they would call their mother or send a card or flowers, and many others
planned to buy their mother a gift or take her out to dinner.
In an interesting wrinkle, the poll also
asked Americans which television mother they would have liked to have had as
their own mother growing up. The top choice was
June Cleaver, from the 1950s TV show Leave it to Beaver. Other top
choices were Clair Huxtable, from the 1980s program The Cosby Show;
Carol Brady from The Brady Bunch and Marion Cunningham from
Happy Days, both 1970s programs; and two more 1950s icons, Donna
Stone from The Donna Reed Show and Harriet Nelson from The
Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. Clearly, Americans love and
value their mothers, and cherish the TV programs which portrayed mothers in
a respectful and positive fashion.
Unfortunately, the Fox network
In 1987, TV’s respectful
treatment of mothers began to be replaced by an attitude of mockery and
contempt – and unsurprisingly, it was the Fox network that began the trend.
Married with Children’s Peg Bundy was portrayed as shallow, vapid,
incompetent at domestic chores (and everything else) and obsessed with sex.
Dressed to resemble a prostitute, the Peg Bundy character also seemed to act
and think like one. The constant put-downs directed at Peg by her crude and
moronic husband character were echoed by equally intense contempt from her
And in the two decades since
Married with Children’s premiere nothing has changed, except that the
mockery, contempt and even hatred shown towards mothers on Fox has become
even more vicious and sadistic.
The May 11th episode
of The Simpsons focused on the death of Homer’s mother, a former
radical who abandoned him as a child. The now-deceased mother leaves her
daughter-in-law Marge a purse made of hemp, as Bart informs his father that
Grandma said “you don’t suck…THAT much.”
Yet The Simpsons’
depiction of motherhood was as nothing compared to that seen on Seth
MacFarlane’s animated “comedy” Family Guy. In celebration of Mother’s
Day, Fox chose to rerun an episode in which Baby Stewie murders his own
mother – after plotting to torture her:
Stewie: "I'll teach that hussy to go on a
boat ride without me. When she returns I'm going to put bamboo splinters
under all her fingernails. And I'm going to strip her down and tie her to
Stewie: "Then I'm going to make her crawl on
her hands and knees while I drip hot candle wax all over her back."
Brian: "And then what are you going to do?"
Stewie: "Let's see..."
Brian: "Are you going to shower her off after
all of that candle wax?"
Stewie: "No. I'm going to keep her
Brian: "Yeah, she's been a bad
Stewie: "And then I'm going to gag
her with her own brassiere…What?"
Brian: "No, nothing. That's all
part of your diabolical plan to humiliate her."
Stewie: "Yes, yes! She'll be humiliated."
Brian: "Maybe you'll handcuff her.
She'll hate that."
Stewie: "Then I shall do that, as well."
Brian: "And call her a bitch?"
Stewie: "Until I'm hoarse with
Brian: "Maybe smack her ass with a
Stewie: " Yes, and then…What?"
Brian: "That would show her."
Stewie: "You're getting some kind of sick
sexual thrill off this, aren't you?"
After this delightful dialogue,
Stewie points a gun at his mother
Lois, pulling the trigger and graphically shooting her full of holes. As
Lois falls overboard, blood gushes from her wounds.
The “creative” personnel in
charge of writing today’s TV shows denigrate programs like Leave it to
Beaver and The Donna Reed Show as being unrealistic and
hopelessly naïve; but in fact, the depictions of mothers so often found on
TV today are actually far less realistic than those found on programs
from TV’s “golden age.” And, as this column has
previously shown, Americans prefer upbeat, positive messages in their
entertainment to endless profanity, violence and sex. The recent Harris poll
underlines the point: while today’s entertainment industry encourages, even
celebrates, a disrespectful portrayal of mothers as depraved and worthless,
the Americans who make up their audience feel very differently. One cannot
help but wonder whether the mothers of Fox’s writers are flattered by the
way their children portray mothers on TV…or how long it will take the
entertainment industry to return to making programs that their viewers