Thursday, April 14, 2011

Three for Thursday: The Pop Culture Edition: 'The Middle,' 'Modern Family' & 'Parenthood'

Image credit: ABC
The Middle: Don’t Cave on the Punishment

The latest episode of The Middle sparked all kinds of debate in the Picket Fence Post house about how far The Spouse and I would go to make a point and stand our ground when we punish a kid in the hopes of teaching him or her a lesson.

In The Middle’s fictional Heck family, the obnoxious, clueless teenage son Axl would not stop leaving his dirty socks all over the house. This habit was driving his father Mike absolutely insane. After repeatedly asking Axl to refrain from abandoning his socks, Axl continued with his slovenly ways until Mike threw down the gauntlet: If Mike found one more dirty sock lying around the house, he’d punish him, big time, take away something Axl cares about.

That next time occurred shortly thereafter. Mike was highly frustrated and, when Axl got all snarky and challenged Mike to take away whatever he wanted, Mike told him he couldn’t play in his final basketball game of the season . . . a move Mike immediately regretted and which his wife Frankie, behind closed doors, said she thought was idiotic. (She said she would’ve taken away use of the car, his iPod, his cell phone or TV before going to the extreme of taking away a kid’s season ending hoop game.)

And when Mike and Frankie learned that Axl was on the cusp of breaking his father’s high school record for the most free throws in a single season, they started actively looking for ways to try to back off the punishment without looking like they were backing off. They, in essence, caved.

The Spouse and I agreed that had one of us hastily punished a kid without realizing that he or she was on the verge of breaking a record, we’d likely offer the kid a choice: Miss the game OR lose the car/iPod/cell phone. However if it wasn’t the last game, too freakin’ bad. Next time, pick up your damned socks kid.

Modern Family’s 'We Love the Word'

Modern Family was so fun this week. I really needed the laughter it gave me like a little gift I didn't know I needed.

From Phil Dunphy’s ill-advised minivan shrink-wrap scheme to promote his real estate business – which would up making the family minivan look like a giant ad for an escort service with Claire and Haley serving as Phil’s escorts – to Cameron’s over-the-top middle school musical direction, I was thoroughly entertained.

As the end of the season draws near, I’m already starting to feel Modern Family withdrawal symptoms.

Image credit: NBC
Parenthood: Dealing with Teens is a Massive Emotional Challenge

Boy was NBC’s Parenthood a tough watch this week, leading up to the season finale next Tuesday.

There was the distinctly uncomfortable scenario of parents learning that their 16-year-old was having sex with her boyfriend. Sure, the mom, Kristina Braverman, had come right out and asked her daughter Haddie if she and her boyfriend were having sex, so when the girl eventually told her they were, Kristina should’ve had some kind of plan about what she’d do with that information. Instead, Kristina, who first had sex at age 15, looked baffled and uncertain as to what she was supposed to do next. Her husband Adam was horrified, wouldn’t even look at Haddie and had a great deal of trouble dealing with the contrast of him seeing her as a little girl and seeing Haddie as a young woman who was discovering her sexuality. (I covered this in more detail in my episode review.) The subject of teenage sex was dealt with in such a realistic fashion that The Spouse was definitely squirming in his seat.

Then there was the sadness surrounding the whip-smart and edgy Amber, the high school senior who plunged into a downward spiral when she learned that she didn’t get into either of the colleges to which she applied. She started doing drugs, drinking and engaging in reckless behavior, including showing up at a restaurant to meet her mother for dinner while high and dressed bizarrely.

It just breaks your heart as a parent to watch a child endure emotional pain and watch her mother Sarah struggle with how to help her child guide through this wrenchingly difficult time.

The entire episode made me admire parents of teens – which I’ll become at the end of the summer – all the more for the challenges with which they must deal and still attempt to retain their sanity.

Image credits: Eric McCandless/ABC and NBC.

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