E, my almost 13 year old daughter (man that makes me feel old...) has been watching a lot of ABC Family lately. She is obsessed with Gilmore Girls - she'll even randomly start talking about some of the characters while we're out shopping or whatever, thoroughly confusing her father. I call it "visiting Gilmoreworld" when she does that.
Another show she's been watching is Still Standing. I know the original airings ended five years ago, but apparently it has a new life. I'd never seen the show until Tuesday, when she was sick and had to come home from school. After lots of medication and sleep, she was feeling better and we watched the show together.
I wasn't paying close attention, then something caught my attention. The couple has a teenage son, who in this episode was about to begin his senior year of high school. He had taken a trip to Europe and fell in love with an Italian girl. It turned out that she was a con artist, preying on hormonal teen boys to take their money, but that wasn't the part that concerned me. The boy admitted to his father that he had lost his virginity to the girl, and his parents were thrilled. They started treating him differently. The father began including the son in more activities and spending more time with him. They both kept saying he was "a man now" and how proud they were of him. In an arguement about why the girl couldn't come visit, the father said that his senior year he should be free to sleep with as many girls as he wanted, that it was his right as a senior and he would have underclassmen girls throwing themselves at him because he was "a senior."
I did NOT hear any discussion of consequences - no mention of STDs, pregnancy, emotional consequences. No talk about responsibility, possibility of protection failing, love and commitment, or anything you'd expect parents to talk about with their son. This was a girl that he would likely never see again. The son is portrayed as intelligent, yet his parents seem ashamed of his ability and want him to be popular instead.
On the other hand, I wonder how the episode would have been written if it was a DAUGHTER who had been in the same situation? Imagine this: an intelligent teenage girl with good grades who is a star student but not in the popular crowd goes on a trip to Europe and "falls in love" with and sleeps with a boy while there. She is also beginning her senior year. What would the parents have said then? I can almost guarantee it would be something about ruining her future, not giving in to peer pressure, going to college, using protection, and something along the whole "cows and milk" vein. I am sure she wouldn't be encouraged to sleep around school because she is a senior.
That's not the only problem I have with the show, but the rest is pretty common for sitcoms. Dad is immature, Mom is the enforcer, the kids are rude... all unrealistic stereotypes. I am not thrilled with my daughter watching this show now. How in the world did it even stay on the air four years?