Thursday, July 28, 2011

"The Cleveland Show" takes on the double burden

It seems Seth MacFarlane, the creator of FOX's "Family Guy" and "The Cleveland Show," doesn't have many fans among feminists. calls MacFarlane's shows  "unfunny, anti-feminist and anti-woman."

However, I found this episode of "The Cleveland Show" titled "Beer Walk!" particularly interesting because it calls attention to an old societal chestnut women have been struggling with for years:  the "double burden."

The double burden, also known as the "double day" or the "double shift," is defined as the performance of paid labor outside the home in addition to the performance of the majority of unpaid labor within the home.  The double burden disproportionately affects women.

In this episode, Cleveland's wife Donna fakes an injury in an attempt to get Cleveland to pitch in around the house until she's outed by his bar buddies who use patriarchal trickery to restore the status quo.

Watch the episode here:

The story is told on a backdrop of of typical raunchy, patriarchal humor, but that's the point -- we live in a patriarchal society.  Once we get past the stupid jokes, a satirical exposure of the double burden comes into focus and three truths emerge:
  • The double burden is real and is still firmly in place,
  • The double burden is not taken seriously , and
  • Domestic work, performed primarily by women, is devalued by society.
I'm not defending MacFarlane, because some of his work is "out there" and some criticism might be valid. Yet, here he addresses topic that is not  afforded much coverage in the mainstream media.  The drawback is that he has chosen to do it in a quirky way in an unconventional forum, so the message will be lost on some people.

But not on all.

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