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Guest Review: NBC's 'I Feel Bad' Is OK, But It'd Be A Lot Better If It Were More About the Husband

By Generic Sexist Dude | TV | September 20, 2018 |

By Generic Sexist Dude | TV | September 20, 2018 |


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I just don’t know about I Feel Bad, y’all. I mean, it’s a family sitcom told from the female perspective. I’m all for family sitcoms starring women — there has to be someone to play the Mom — but I prefer that the women be written by male writers. I mean, it’s just easier for me to understand women from the male perspective, you know? Like, from men who really get women, like Aaron Sorkin or something. And I’m not sure how I feel about a sitcom where the female lead, Emet (Sarayu Blue), is the focal point, especially when the sitcomm-y lessons we are supposed to take with us at the end of each episode aren’t warm and fuzzy reinforcements of the importance of family. Work is cool and all, but family first, especially when it comes to Moms!

I mean, don’t get me wrong. I totally value the role of women in the home, and I am all for women working, as long as a female can either successfully balance their home and family lives, or at least not bug me about their struggles. But already, in the second episode of I Feel Bad, creator Aseem Batra is throwing that in my face, trying to make me feel guilty for needing my wife. WTF?

The episode revolves around the 20 minutes of “me time” that Emet endeavors to obtain for herself at the end of each day, 20 minutes she can spend alone without having to make a decision at work, or break up a fight between her kids, or handhold her husband through some work crisis. Her husband, by the way, is David — played by Paul Adelstein — and he’s alright. I don’t particularly care for the way he’s depicted as bumbling and occasionally needy and insecure, mostly because I don’t understand why anyone would want to make fun of a guy seeking his wife’s guidance and support. Isn’t that what feminism is all about? And like, he has a job, but we never see him at work, or the sort of struggles he endures throughout the day, while the sitcom alternates between Emet’s life at home and her life at work. Like, what? He’s barely a person. He’s an obstacle. He’s a punchline. How does creator Aseem Batra think that makes me feel as a man?

And the “me time,” I totally get, but what about “us” time, you know? Emet actually says to her husband that she sometimes even needs some space from him, which is really hurtful! Yes, sure: Guys like to go out with their buddies sometimes and grab a beer (remember Norm from Cheers!) or see a game or take a break in the man cave, but that’s just how we cope, you know? After a hard day at work, we don’t need to be around while our wives yell at the kids for fighting. It’s stressful! And also, if you have a sexy dream about another guy, don’t tell your husband! God! We don’t want to think about our wives being with other men while we’re trying to think about being with other women! Total boner killer. There was never anything like that in The Cosby Show. I mean, Clare was an asexual being, and this character, Emet, she has, like sexual needs, but that’s not OK. She’s a mom!

And then there’s Emet’s work-life, where she works with a bunch of nerdy dudes in a video game company, and these guys? They get it! They’re funny — quick with the snide remarks — and they’re really into getting laid, but it’s hard because — you know — no one wants to have sex with them (Amen, brothers! Bros before hos! Unless she’s really hot!). But they also really need someone like Emet to, you know, keep them organized and on task, and in exchange, they’re willing to make the occasional compromise about, say, the big-boobed characters in their video games, because, like, 1) you don’t have to have big boobs to be hot (though it obviously helps), and 2) a little compromise here and there mollifies Emet, and you know what they say? Happy Lady, Happy Life! On account of, the happier she is, the more she’s willing to help us out, am I right? (I also did not appreciate the crack in the episode about men taking credit for women’s ideas. That’s a pretty low blow).

But what I really like about I Feel Bad is the sneaky conservative nature of the show. Like, Emet struggles with raising her kids the way her more conservative parents raised her and her desire to be a more contemporary feminist mom, and I’m not sure which way the series is going to come down on that, but I’m rooting for Emet’s parents. Like, young girls shouldn’t be able to do sexy dance routines — an issue Emet struggles with in the pilot episode — because they should wait until they’re teenagers to do that, unless they’re my daughters, in which case over my dead body!

I dunno. I guess I laughed a few times while I was watching the show (mostly at the funny cracks Emet’s co-workers made about boobs, although I don’t know why Emet would want to give them the stink eye for that! There’s nothing more feminist than boobs!) I guess I just wish it was more about Paul, and the kind of challenges he faces going to work and taking care of the kids while Emet is off having her “me time,” and maybe about the sexy dreams he is having. I think it’s cool, I guess, that the female gets agency and her own POV and all, but not at the expense of the male characters. We’re people too, you know? And now because of the Me Too movement and everything, it’s basically Even Steven with men and women now, so maybe sitcoms should treat men and women the same, too. That’s all I’m saying. It’s only fair. I mean, we lost Louis C.K. for nine months, it’s the least women can do for us.



Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.



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