It’s no secret that pop culture portrayals of the typical American male often trumpet the pathetic, complacent, husband trope. “Mike and Molly,” a show about a good-natured obese couple, depends on this regularly for comedic relief, and it leaves us wondering, what happened to aspiration beyond a comfortable, middle-class life? Or more specifically, when did an awesome TV become the ultimate goal in life?
For example, when Molly starts thinking about what she might want to do in life before she has children, she decides that she wants to learn how to roller skate. She then asks Mike if he has any particular aspirations or goals.
“Married, flat screen TV, my own bowling ball, nope, daddy’s done!” Mike replies, then adds snidely, “Follow your dreams, and if your dreams take you by the store, we need milk.”
Later, after a painful lap roller rink, the subject comes up again. This time Mike praises the wonderful picture quality of his flat screen TV.
We laugh at Mike’s responses, but only because they ring sadly true. It’s pathetic, of course, but also acceptable. As “Mike and Molly” shows, we seem to be expecting less and less out of men these days. If the average man has no higher aspirations than a bowling league and a high-res screen to watch the game on, then clearly we've set a pretty low bar for the American dream.