A Sibling Expedition into Family and Media
Welcome to Family Drama! For the next eight weeks, we'll be guest blogging on Bitch about the portrayals of families on TV and in movies. We'll delve into what makes fictional families functional (or not), different types of familial arrangements in media, relationships between family members, and a ton of other issues.
Our background is that we're siblings whose family has often been defined as "dysfunctional." This label is a simple umbrella term that covers the myriad problems of abuses, rotating caregivers, and ever-present instability we've faced. When we were young, no one ever dissected or defined that term for us. As adults, we've had to unpack it for ourselves.
In this process of figuring out what "dysfunctional" means, we've searched for our own understanding of what family "should" be and the ways in which ours does and doesn't measure up. Along the way, we've often wondered how many others struggle to articulate their experience with non-traditional families and fitting their family into what is perceived as normal. The main place we turn to understand what "normal" families look like is media.
Which brings us, finally, to telling you who we are. Hello!
Hi! I'm Dorian, the one on the right. I'm a queer disabled dude who guest blogged about theatre for Bitch in 2011. Since then, I've worked in advocacy positions and, more recently, been a general layabout and vagabond, attempting to navigate the labyrinthine qualifications for Canadian disability assistance. I in particular have a lot of feelings about found family narratives, whether creator-intended or read into a work by fans. I'm also a fan of figure skating, comics, and more video games than is good for me if my father's opinion is anything to go by. Nice to meet you.
And hi! I'm Isadora, on the left. For a long time I was the youngest in our family, a title of which I took full advantage. I am a violently-pink-haired 20-year-old, upcoming student who has passed the last few "deferrals" of school by consuming media at an alarming rate. I find myself drawn to watching shows and films about atypical families, perhaps because I relate to them. I like seeing the portrayals that land outside the box, whether they're "found" families or families whose dysfunction lurks under a seemingly perfect surface. When I was younger, the "all-American" nuclear families on TV were a soothing alternative to the chaotic environment around me. Full House taught me the morals my mother could not, The Cosby Show told me how a family could be. These shows offered an escape for me and when I got older I found myself wanting to know why these families were taken as "normal" when surely they are a rare exception: most families don't fit that perfect mold.
. . .
Now that you know us slightly better, it's almost time to wrap up this protracted "hello". But first, a word on our methodology for deciding what to write about in this column.
A lot of the specific TV shows we want to examine are ones with years worth of seasons. We're not going to watch every single episode, so in discussion of TV shows, unless otherwise stated, we are focusing on the first season only. You're welcome to discuss things from beyond our scope in comments—just please clearly indicate spoilers, both for our benefit and that of other commenters.
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