LOOK WHO’S NOT LAUGHING
I have to admit that I am feeling very angry about Fran Drescher’s new program “Happily Divorced” which just started airing this week on TV Land. Trust me--I’m a big fan of funny sitcoms. And I also have watched TV Land for many years when I needed a laugh. But guess what? I’m not laughing now.
Fran Drescher has somehow taken a situation that devastates millions of people who are living in straight/gay marriages and turned it into a sitcom. Is the show funny? Well, yes—if you aren’t one of those straight wives or gay husbands living this life. In nearly 30 years of counseling over 70,000 people, no one came to me laughing. In fact, I can say with certainty that no one’s parents were laughing over this news either as Fran’s television mother Rita Moreno was doing on the show. And many of the gay husbands who come to me struggle internally for years to the point that it drives them to drinking, drugging, or potential suicide. Oh—they aren’t going to laugh either.
After living in the aftermath of my own marriage, I have devoted my time to giving people an understanding of how our situations happen and why it devastates those who are living it. In the 1980’s when I started my outreach, there was virtually no information on this subject matter. Women felt the need to step further back into the closet than their gay husbands because of the total sense of isolation, unfounded guilt, and public shame when people found out.
Even though I’ve brought light to many living in the darkness, there is a whole world out there that is clueless about the suffering we go through. For our women, constant snickering comments are still made including, “When are you going to get over it already?” That’s after hearing comments like, “Didn’t you know he was gay before you got married?” or “How can he be gay if he married you and had children?” We always have to feel as if we are on the defensive or being under attack for our stupidity because people are clueless and just don’t understand.
So enter Fran Drescher and her gay ex-husband where her real life strongly mirrors her new show. I think it is wonderful that Fran and her gay ex-hubby can be the best of friends and help each other with meeting new dates—or even double dating. But this is the exception—not the rule. The fact that the show takes a real life situation where so many people are so lost and turns it into a weekly comedy is just plain wrong. In fact, I feel violated—not validated. And to go one step further—I feel exploited.
Something just doesn’t feel right when someone has to take a situation this serious for millions of people and turn it into a cutesy show. What’s even worse is that this show will put back the cause of understanding of our situation by 30 years. Now society will view our lives as humorous. Fran is laughing—why aren’t we? Fran is best friends with her ex-husband, even living with him and wanting to double date—why aren’t we? Fran’s dating a new man within months of her long-term marriage—why aren’t we? If you think that our feelings and pain weren’t validated by friends, family, and the general public before this show—it will be all that much worse now after they laugh along with Fran.
I have a new name for this show—it is a “SICKCOM,” not a “sitcom.” This kind of humor is sick. Maybe TV Land could make more comedies out of other people’s tragedies. How about a show about a victim of child abuse laughing with her abuser after she grows up called “Bruise Me and Amuse Me”? Why don’t we make a comedy show over eating disorders showing people laughing after they vomit and call it “Up Chuck My Guts”? How about a sitcom about people with colostomy bags laughing about how they have to now go to the bathroom since they can no longer go the normal way and call it “Oh Sh*t!”
Maybe I would laugh at those shows. Maybe I could find the tragedies of others funny. But I really don’t think so. Shame on Fran and TV Land for profiting from the suffering of so many others. I find it a disgrace. I won’t be watching or laughing in the future. Hopefully others will show their disgust by stating, “Don’t take me to TV Land.”