Trope of the Week: Married… with Hatred

Three’s Company, Reba, Everybody Loves Raymond — there are tons of comedies that have fallen into this trope. The dysfunctional family isn’t just dysfunctional; everybody hates each other, too! For some reason, this keeps occurring in comedic sitcoms, cast with incompetent layabout husbands, nagging wives, rebellious teenagers, and snot-nosed kids. They might occasionally show that they love each other, but for the most part, it’s just hate, hate, hate.

Look at that barely concealed rage and discomfort.

Look at that barely concealed rage and discomfort.

Why this can be bad: I honestly don’t know why people find this funny. Sometimes combined with the funny fat man, this trope capitalizes on dumb humor and hatred as a plot motivator. These families are toxic, unkind, and all-around awful to each other, and if you’ve ever been part of a family like that, you know that there’s nothing funny about it. Emotional abuse often runs rampant in these scenarios, too, though it’s often played off as just being quirky or hilarious.

How you can fix it: You can have funny families who don’t hate each other. Bob’s Burgers is a perfect example of how to have a hysterical family dynamic while keeping it healthy and loving. Like all families, the Belchers can sometimes be mad at each other, but they all love each other and they’ll help one another without question. These are the types of families we need to see instead of the abusive, hate-filled dynamic that’s filled so many TV shows in the past.

Bottom Line: Your family doesn’t need to hate each other in order to be funny, so don’t glorify that thinking you have no other options.

3 comments on “Trope of the Week: Married… with Hatred

  1. jbgarner58 says:

    Reblogged this on J. B. Garner – Musings of a Starving Author and commented:
    Trope of the Week time! This one I particularly like.

  2. matt says:

    My family is nothing like the dysfunctional families on TV. I’ve often thought that if people in sitcoms were honest with each other, instead of lying, hiding, faking everything, they’d be a lot happier. And as a bonus, they wouldn’t be on TV, which is a win for almost everyone else.

  3. My wife sometimes watches Everybody Loves Raymond.

    It makes my teeth itch. Every episode was the same: Raymond does something jerky and mean and selfish and pisses off everyone around him. At the end of the episode, he confesses what a jerk he is and everyone forgives and forgets until the next jerky episode.

    Augh! What an awful character. It’s not like he changes. He’s just a jerk.

    Then again, there’s the conflict in I Love Lucy which is different. That one is all about miscommunication. If Lucy and Ricky actually did more talking to each other and less guessing, nothing would ever happen and we’d have no episodes to watch. I suppose Lucy isn’t really falling into the married with hatred, because they don’t display the agro tendencies of more modern sitcoms.

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