Friday, November 2, 2012

The Plight of the Bad Cop

Modern Family, "Good Cop Bad Dog":

Phil and Claire are typical parents of a typical family. One morning Claire is demanding that the teenage daughters finally clean their bathroom, while Phil is making faces behind her back, attempting to downplay her strictness.

Claire's had enough of being the bad guy; she wants to be fun for once. She takes the son, Jake, and his step-uncle (he's the same age, ergo Modern Family) go-carting while leaving a reluctant Phil in charge of the girls. 

Phil halfheartedly asks the girls to clean up, and they do a slapdash job, stuffing most of the mess in the cabinet then scurrying out the door. Phil is so furious that they tried to make a fool of him that he launches himself on the hood of the moving car. 

His anger and despotism increase as he has them scrubbing the bathroom all day with no food as he duct-tapes their laptops shut. 

Meanwhile, Claire is determined to be fun. She lies about the boys' ages to allow them to go-cart, and as soon as the race starts she swerves her cart into theirs, shoving them out of the race.
She insists they stuff themselves with hot dogs and milk shakes, and when the son Jake gets carsick she protests that he can't be, because they're having fun. The boys arrive home miserable.  

"I'm twelve! I need limits!" Jake tells her.

Claire returns home to find her daughters starving and exhausted, and Phil intends to send them out to the car to clean up Jake's barf. 

Claire tells Phil to call this off; she was not meant to be the good cop, he was not meant to be the bad. We have our inherent roles, and we cannot be anything else. 
Well, I can relate. I'm the bad cop with the kinfauna. Ma was the bad cop with me and my siblings. 

A psychology professor in college once told the class that fathers are the disciplinarians, mothers are full of mushy-gushy love. I wondered what she was smoking. 

It makes no sense for fathers to be the bad cops; no man I know wants to come home after work and belt the kid with a strap (so to speak). The men I know mess up the mothers' plan of getting the kids into bed by hitzing up the offspring. 

Claire and Phil realized that there is a place for the good cop and the bad cop, and they must respect the other's abilities as such. Phil shouldn't think that she is the cruel overlord; Claire shouldn't think he gets to goof off. 

I'm not meant to be the fun one. And I'm cool with it.


ZP said...

I think it is very important for kids for the parents to be "one voice". (We learn this idea from the "Ben Sorer u-Moreh").

Though couples balance each other out, I think it is very important for the kids to feel like the parents are unified, they respect each other and if one says no, it does NOT mean they should go to the other one to get a different response.

re: your point about why fathers are viewed as the disciplinarian: it is "natural" to fear the father (him being disciplinary) and the mother being the more fun/soft one, as it says in the pasuk, to honor your mother and to love your father, its in reverse order for that reason (Rashi).

Garnel Ironheart said...

I've loved that episode, especially the scene where Claire orders drinks for the boys which is a perfect tribute to John Candy in The Blues Brothers.

Princess Lea said...

I missed that reference completely! What a girl I am.

Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

Orange whip! Who wants an orange whip? Three orange whips!

Princess Lea said...

ZP: That's not how it worked in my house.

There is a major difference between theory and practice. Parents like to think they will be on the same page, but that is a rarity.