Family Ties

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 3, 2000

MARY ANN FITZMORRIS / L’Observateur / September 3, 2000

Now that everyone has survived “Survivor,” maybe people will turn their attention to it’s spawn, “Big Brother.” But, if what I’ve heard about this program is true, they probably won’t. This copycat show has, near as I can tell, a unanimous review of B-O-R-I-N-G.

Having never seen this “Big Brother,” I can’t help but wonder two things.

They are: Why do people continue to watch a show they find boring? And, why didn’t the producers use a mother as one of the people to watch? For example, the bathroom habits of mothers are genuinely enthralling. I just know I am endlessly fascinating in the bathroom; I have to be. Minutes after I close the door it is open again and one of my children has come to visit.

These kids never seem to tire of my bodily functions, my showering, or my brushing my teeth. They are a little skittish about hanging around for the latter, since they fear it might remind me to inquire about their own tooth care, or the lack thereof.

But they are willing to take this chance, so interesting is Mom in the bathroom. Hanging around the Alpha Female seems to be captivating all the time. They can’t wait to see what Mom will say next. Except when she is talking to them. They are never out of earshot when the Mommy is speaking to the Daddy, and a mother chatting on the phone is the ultimate.

If the producers of “Big Brother” put a mom on, the segments with the telephone would treat the audience to a bit of television nostalgia. Mom on the phone would remind the viewers of the popular 60s TV program, “Charades.”This segment of the show would actually be challenging to the viewer. They could watch Mom attempt to carry on a telephone conversation, and try, as Mom is, to guess what the children are telling her with their wild gestures.

There would be an added element of suspense to this part of the program.

The audience could be waiting in anticipation to see when Mother goes off on the children for driving her nuts. If she swats them, TV viewers would have a little of that violence they find so entertaining.

Come to think of it, there’s plenty enough violence as the kids interact with each other. Shrieking, chasing and slapping are family sports. (Did I say sports? Now there’s something the audience can relate to!) But the family sport can turn nasty, and the TV viewer could carefully monitor, along with the Lady of the House, the pitch and fever of these conflicts to know just the right time to step in.

Altercations are not the only time mom must use her wit and wisdom. The audience can eavesdrop on The Head of Household as she tries to feed the children. This is one of mom’s greatest challenges.But this segment of the program may actually turn out to be the least interesting, because the audience knows in advance how it will turn out. The ending is predictable; Mom fails.

This is a recurring theme, especially when Dad is around. The viewer can watch with anticipation as Dad pleads with Mom to find him any cleans socks. Will she come up with any, or not? Riveting.The father would likely be a sympathetic figure, as the audience watches him survey his domain in frustration. If his home was really his castle, as the saying goes, he’d have the maid beheaded. But modern Dads wisely keep their mouths shut, and literally shuffle off to bed, fearing what they may step on if they lift their feet.

The father would either be regarded by the audience as a comic figure, or a sympathetic figure, but it would take a while to figure this out. Dad would be seen so seldom the TV viewer may suspect he’s been voted out.

Yes, Mom and the family would be an excellent reality based program, but television programmers have already provided several opportunities for the viewer to observe family life. They’re called sitcoms.But these shows do not exhibit family life as it REALLY is, because television people have sex.

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