Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Yet Another Clueless Dad Joins TV Lineup

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Yet Another Clueless Dad Joins TV Lineup

Article excerpt

When Michael Keaton dried his baby's bare behind using a public restroom's air drier in "Mr. Mom," moviegoers howled with laughter. In NBC's new "Guys With Kids," when an at-home dad bathes a friend's baby in the kitchen sink -- a time-saving idea he got after having to rinse off a rotisserie chicken that dropped on the floor -- the laugh track swells.

But is this kind of thing still funny? Is it really so hilarious to see an at-home dad who's not great at being a mom?

Nick at Nite is hoping so. Tonight, the network will launch "See Dad Run," in which Scott Baio plays an actor who portrayed a father on TV for 10 years, but proves to be clueless about taking care of his real kids. In episode two, he actually "misplaces" his 5-year- old daughter.

When "Mr. Mom" came out in 1983, Keaton's stay-at-home father, Jack, was a pretty rare type of character, real or fictional, but today that's no longer true.

To its credit, television has not ignored the new reality: 32 percent of married fathers are the primary caregiver in the household, according to a 2010 U.S. Census study. But when it comes to sitcoms, TV is still stuck in the old inept dads rut.

"It's time to put that one to rest, but society won't do that, because these stereotypes promote the status quo, and until people really want to start looking deep into themselves about who they are, these things will just persist," says Ridgewood filmmaker Dana Glazer, an actively involved father of three whose documentary "The Evolution of Dad" came out in 2010.

Persistent stereotypes

"These sort of stereotypes make people feel better about themselves. They make the dads who are not around very often feel better, like, 'Oh, thank God that's not me, because otherwise I'd be an idiot at home.' It makes the moms feel better -- 'See, look at those dads. They're incompetent. It's not their place.' So it really promotes the status quo ... and that's why these things persist."

"Guys With Kids," co-created by Jimmy Fallon, is about three thirtysomething buddies -- a divorced lawyer with joint custody of a baby son, a traditional dad and an at-home father of four kids (including infant twins). In July, Fallon told TV critics that he and fellow executive producer Amy Ozols were inspired by "all the guys that we were seeing around New York City ... with the Baby Bjorns and the babies on the backs of their bikes, and I was saying 'These are young, good-looking guys - they're just embracing the role of dad.' "

But the dads on Fallon's show are hardly role models. In the pilot, the guys are in a sports bar with their babies, and the at- home father of four fails to notice that one of his infants has crawled behind the bar.

Loses his daughter

In "See Dad Run," which is shot, by coincidence, on the same Paramount soundstage where Baio did "Happy Days," Baio's David Hobbs loses his daughter after a mother in their "Mommy and Me" class takes the 5-year-old home for a play date and David realizes he doesn't have any contact info. …

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