TNT chose to ridicule motherhood, motherhood activism, marriage and large families all at once on its latest episode of the cop dramedy series Rizzoli & Isles. The episode showed once again the disdain with which traditional motherhood and marriage are viewed in the entertainment industry.
On the July 17 episode two well-known psychologists are murdered, setting the stage for the investigation. The heroes of the show, Rizzoli (Angie Harmon), a police detective, and Isles (Sasha Alexander), a medical examiner, discover that the victims are advocates of childless families and had a history of activism against childbirth. Naturally, the first suspect the police in the show light upon is a woman who featured the anti-child psychologist on her pro-motherhood website.
The police look over this motherhood advocate’s website to find that her organization is called Women Are About Kids. Yes, the acronym is WAAK, because, well, you know, anyone that is pro-family is whacked, right? The website also features a cross-hairs targeting symbol over the face of the murdered anti-child psychologist. Because, well, you know, all those violent conservatives use crosshairs on their enemies.
Detective Rizzoli brings the woman in for questioning and finds, to her great disgust, that the woman brought her children along to the police interview. Rizzoli and her superior proceed to make faces of disgust every time the woman mentions her kids, her pro-family activism, and her support group work.
The Rizzoli character proceeds to needle this motherhood activist accusing her of killing the psychologist because she is jealous that the psychologist didn’t have “stretch marks.” In allusion to the crosshairs, the police even say that the woman has “violent” imagery on her website.
But after all these attacks on motherhood, stay-at-home moms, and marriage it turns out the motherhood activist had an alibi and the “suspect” is no longer a part of the episode. It almost seemed as if the segment was included in the show solely to make fun of motherhood and stay-at-home activism because it otherwise has no bearing on the solution to the crime.
The show wasn’t done making fun of marriage, though. As it happens, the murderer in the show is a disturbed man who kidnaps Rizzoli, ties her to a bed, and tells her they are “married.” Apparently the writers feel marriage is bondage of women, eh? Naturally there are all sorts of jokes about how bad marriage is, how it is like a prison, and how the Rizzoli character would never get married because marriage is so bad.
And the murderer? He played the typical Hollywood version of the stupid or abusive husband figure. Husbands and fathers are always portrayed as either not as smart as the kids or mean as rattle snakes and this one was even a murderer.
So, what was the lesson of the story? “With or without children,” the Rizzoli character snarks, “marriage is miserable.” And there you go.
Granted this series is not built on a “serious” drama setting. All the characters are over the top. Even the two heroes are played broadly and often for yucks. To bring the comedic aspect of the show home, even the background music for the series is more whimsy than drama. So, this show isn’t a normal cop procedural show but more like a dramedy.
Still, the slap that the writers handed motherhood and traditional marriage in this episode is telling and so sadly indicative of the way these subjects are treated in other shows. if not so broadly. Though taking it to extremes, this episode pretty much gave marriage and motherhood the same shabby treatment these subjects get from so many other shows in television entertainment.