A Dr. Phil episode mid-December was a rerun that focused on two couples in jeopardy. Before jumping to conclusions considering the show and audience, this is a better portrayal of dysfunctional couples than you will see on nighttime sitcoms or dramas.
Act One: Jessica and Rob
Jessica and her fiancé of seven years Rob are holding off on getting married because Jessica is a violent drunk that yells at everyone. She has hit her current man. Jessica has two kids from her first guy. She appears to be in her mid to late 30s (as does he), and he has just begun to drink along with her. An outside observer, Jessica's mother shows up and says her daughter is a violent drunk and a bit of a moody skank. She also rips on the boyfriend. Jessica pushes back by revealing that she hates her mother because her mother was married three times, pawned her off on her grandmother, and offered no stability.
The second phase twist to this is that Rob, the idiot that he is, has a child with Jessica. Men, wrap it up and you can leave these psychos without legal problems. How mentally dark and twisted can blended families get? Rob, the beta step-dad, even went so far as to say to Jessica's son from her first guy that the son is just mad that Jessica chose Rob over him. The kids speak with blurred faces and know their mom is an angry alcoholic who ignores them. They say "Robbie", note the childlike name, stresses their mom out, is bossy and antagonizes her. Jessica claims she is torn between protecting her kids from Rob's criticism and being a partner to Rob. There is no greater warning to marrying a woman with kids from a prior relationship than that admission.
Dr. Phil swoops in with his folksy common sense talk. There are special needs for blended families (a graphic shows up on the screen). The needs are nothing you would see for regular nuclear families and remind me of a cross between HR rules and camp guidelines. Dr. Phil says she needs rehab, which will be at Hannah's House, to get help because she "deserves peace in her life". Does she or does she deserve to deal with the consequences of her decisions? Hannah's House is for women and staffed exclusively by women. Big applause when she says she will go because going to therapy is the new public confession.
If Dr. Phil is sending her to a woman's center, why not bring up some women's liberation points? Jessica's mom married and divorced three times after the creation of no-fault divorce. Jessica was living in a home with granite countertops and good sized rooms despite having two kids and being unmarried with a new guy and a third kid. Who made that happen? How much of her life, alcoholism and instability, is made possible by courts shifting child support her way and a tax and government benefit system skewed to help unmarried moms? Why does she hit her current man and continue to be violent and aggressive with him and her kids? Her entire existence and situation is a creation of the liberal welfare state, and it's feminism tentacle that started with dear mother.
Act Two: Jessica and Brendon
Coincidence of names, but if you saw that US graph of most popular names Jessica did well in the '70s. This Jessica lost 100 pounds, changed her personality and now Brendon wants her to gain it back. She went from 243 to 145, but in reality, she also looks mannish now and has big arms. They have been married for two years, and she started to lose weight when she had a miscarriage that she blamed on her obesity (good for her). He fought the weight loss, he sabotaged her efforts and he did it all out of fear of losing her. He verbally abused her, said guys would only date her for her looks and threatened her with violence if she left him. He did admit to hitting her once. The crowd was worked up over this.
The crowd then changed their stance once the whole truth came out. Despite being married for two years, they already were separated for two months after she lost the weight. She sought attention, went out with guys, slept with men and CALLED HIM AFTER TO TAUNT HER HUSBAND. She said she wanted to do what the pretty girls had done because she finally had the chance and she was just uncontrollable (giggles by her as she said it). The crowd was silent. Entire crowd had turned on her. Sadly, this is a product of Hollywood saying pretty women sleep around, when studies show the opposite. Jessica bought into it. It is a status game ladies. Women sacrifice looks in males if they think he is higher status, while men will sacrifice their freedom if they think a woman is higher status.
Dr. Phil busts her for attention whoring and cites how the weight loss was not just about health. Jessica's sister shows up to rat her out, explain her drama queen behavior for years, and mentions that Jessica cheated on Brendon prior to their wedding when she was fat. Keep in mind, they have one kid together. Men, wrap it up. Like Rob in act one, all Brendon had to do was use protection, and he would have avoided this. The sister supports Brendon. Here's the most interesting part: Dr. Phil asks them each if they knew now (her current size) what they knew then, would they still have married? Brendon says yes, child and wife were his best decisions. Jessica cracks a big smile, leans back and says no.
Dr. Phil's down home advice is for her to get over getting hotter and for him to adjust to her hotness if he does want to stay married. You know what was never discussed? Why on earth would a man stay with a woman who has cheated on him whether fat or thin and called him about it to rub it into his face? Time does not heal all wounds, and some things said are forever remembered. Cheating is one of the divorce get out of jail free cards, and even in no-fault divorce days was a valid reason for divorce. Reverse the genders, and Dr. Phil would be pushing the scoundrel off the stage for cheating and calling his wife to brag about it. The unleashed sexual power here is the female's so no one can question that. Brendon cannot leave unless he wants to pay the child support fine to the skanky mother of his child and potentially lose half of his wealth. In pre-'68 divorce world, Brendon could leave, and Jessica would get nothing. All of the carousel riding she did, drinking and drama would slip the child to Brendon's custody (if he wanted custody). She would have consequences.
This is the gigantic feminist elephant in the room that even an evenhanded show like this particular episode cannot mention. Every bad decision has the losses subsidized and socialized for the women. Even when they misbehave, the family court system is set up to protect them and remove disincentives for bad behavior. Bring back fault divorce, bring back forfeiture of assets if you are the one at fault, and bring back a cultural climate that will "name names" when it comes to naming and shaming unrestrained, wild behavior. The liberal system needs dysfunction to survive. It needs it to spread up to the middle class to feed the ever expanding juggernaut of the therapeutic, totalitarian social welfare state that wants to destroy all social and familial ties you may have and replace them with ties to the state.
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