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Jun 03rd
The Family Fix PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jenni Person, , BT Contributor   
May 2020

Pix_FamilyMatters_0520There are benefits to being stuck at home

Now that we’re all in captivity in our homes, I know it won’t sound weird for me to share that I’ve binge-watched some TV shows lately. One thing I realized while binge-watching Schitt’s Creek, a Netflix series about the enormously wealthy Rose family that loses everything, is that I seem to have a special place in my heart for shows that center around dysfunctional families and/or parents.

And the parents in these families are my parenting heroes. The first time this struck me was several years ago, when I happened upon Weeds, the HBO series that followed a widowed suburban mom who becomes a pot dealer. My heart would go pitter-patter when, in the midst of complete chaos -- often with the law looming, Nancy Botwin, the Prius-driving mom played by Mary-Louise Parker, would stop and quite sincerely, with 120 percent of her focus, advise her kids to make good choices or console a broken tween heart, tell them not to speak to her like that, or to go to talk to a teacher about a problem, or countless other things we ourselves could be doing for or saying to our kids.

I loved that her kids, her family, were everything. They were even the reason she was dealing -- an accessible solution she found to keep her family afloat in their privileged lifestyle once the sole breadwinner was gone.

She hadn’t worked for most of her adult life. But she sure had a good head on her shoulders, and a heart of gold with which she embraced her family at all times. I became entranced by the show because Nancy Botwin was me -- aside from the weed dealing. She was just a mom like me, so I was rooting for her and hanging on her every word.

And then I discovered Schitt’s Creek. At the show’s opening, I winced as yet another wealthy family waltzed across the screen, dripping in privilege and entitlement. They’re a typical heteronormative mother-father-two kids, with the “kids” being adult children who have only acted at being adults for much of their lives, accustomed to directing and relying on staff and to tossing privilege around for access to whatever their hearts desire.

Yet I quickly became curious when it all was stripped from them right before their eyes, as a bad business decision forced them to face the reality of living, totally unprepared, like regular -- and broke -- people in a small unknown town with the awful name Schitt’s Creek, as it had been purchased as a joke and forgotten about years prior to becoming the only remaining asset. They are literally up Schitt’s Creek.

The family bumbles through six seasons of trying to maintain their designer, store-bought lives, high-falutin’ taste and expectations, and larger-than-life consumption-fostered personalities. There’s a little rundown motel in Schitt’s Creek where they land themselves and the few high-end, possessions they were able to carry from their repossessed house with them -- including TV star Mom’s custom wig collection and some of everyone’s designer clothing.

And suddenly, not unlike all of us during this lockdown, they’re living all together in a small space without staff and luxuries. Ultimately, all they have is each other and their shared history, which on the outside is quite glitzy, but inside is simply the relationships between them distilled.

As annoying as they all initially are -- each swimming in his or her stylized aloofness -- they evolve throughout the seasons. Having fallen to earth, they become real and warm…and close. They become familial. Where initially they were jaded and bored, eventually they become concerned for each other’s feelings, well-being, and success from finding true love to graduations to comforting each other’s material, professional, and emotional losses. Stripped of the architecture of their affectations, all they have is time and the space between them. They see each other. The world as they knew it may have crumbled around them, but they hold each other up.

In both cases, I couldn’t stop watching and cheering the characters because at the center is love. They may be completely insane and so starkly different from me in material ways, but at the core they are me. When they look at each other, they are me. And it’s not because they’re more dysfunctional than my own family (current or childhood), but because family transcends all.

Of course, I know I’m lucky that my family is in an emotionally strong place during this crisis, and that we do genuinely like and love each other. I am deeply concerned, however, about the homes in which domestic violence exists and is amplified under current circumstances. These are homes that don’t have the luxury of the kind of dysfunction we see on TV.

Call SwitchBoard of Miami (305-631-4211) if you or someone you know needs help.

 

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