In today’s For Better or For Worse
, Lynn Johnston has decided that little Meredith is now smart enough to try to figure out exactly how Santa can get in the house if there is no chimney. Meredith has obviously not been exposed to the modern Santa-related movies like Elf
or The Santa Clause
series which explain Santa’s technological or magical marvels for dealing with chimneys. This is, of course, because Lynn Johnston doesn’t see movies produced any later than Gone With the Wind
, as shown in this strip:
Otherwise, she might have made Meredith a little more pop culture savvy, but For Better or For Worse
has been pretty consistently behind the pop culture times for awhile now.
My children have their own rituals for falling asleep. At one point in their lives, they used to like to have me read to them a story or make one up on the fly using their stuffed animals, but they are less interested in those things anymore. However, my boy, thanks to the sensory integration part of his Asperger’s syndrome, likes deep compressions, which is a nice way of saying he likes to be squished by the full weight of his adult father. That calms him down a lot of times for going to bed. My daughter has taken to giving me a daughterly kiss on the cheek (and I should point out it is only giving and not receiving. She thinks getting kisses are icky, but she likes giving them.) and then commenting on how rough with stubble my skin is at the end of the day, or if she thinks I stink from whatever I had for supper.
When I saw today’s strip, my thought was that the unusual forehead stroking motion was a long-standing means by which Deanna comforts Meredith. When Michael shows up afterwards, Lynn Johnston, in a very nicely done fashion, not only ties in the theme for the strip of “Magic” but also points out that Michael Patterson is so clueless with respect to his children, he does not know how to put them to bed when they are excited. After his daughter's 4 years of existence, Michael should know something about this most basic element of parenting. Lynn has been beating in this message that Michael needs to be more involved with his children over and over again, with the idea that once he gives up his Portrait Magazine job, he will be. The sad fact of the matter is that if he couldn’t pick it up in the first 4 years, he is not going to pick it up in the next 4.
Therein lies the greatest flaw in For Better or For Worse
over the last few years. The participants in April’s Real Blog
are extremely aware of the characters’ flaws. In fact, I don’t mind those flaws.Michael
is an inattentive father and is growing to dislike working in an environment where he has to follow the creative leadership of people he does not respect.Deanna
is a dumb, blonde, barely competent in her profession, and is slowly becoming a better mother.
Both Michael and Deanna
deeply resent parenthood.Elizabeth
is afraid of emotional intimacy and runs away from any man who pursues her. She is also a barely competent teacher.John
could care less about his family (including his own mom and dad), and his marriage survives only from his willingness to do everything his wife tells him to do.Elly
is model of bad mothering, and typifies the type of grandmother who expects the grandchildren to be brought to you, and does nothing to accommodate others. April
gossips behind people’s backs and has no academic or extracurricular pursuits aside from her garage band. She does not even do the most basic things necessary to support her relationship with her boyfriend, like go to his games.
I don’t mind any of those flaws at all. It makes the characters real, because I know or have known people with these kinds of flaws. If the strip only had this in it, then it would be fine. The problem is the preachiness, the moral messages, the “I’m better than they are” sequences. That is what is killing this strip.
If you take this strip for example, Mike is shown to be a very poor father, so uninvolved, he doesn’t know how to get one of his kids worked up by Christmas to sleep. This strip, taken by itself, is actually pretty good. But, I predict, by the time the week ends, there will something praising Mike and Deanna for their parenting skills.
There is someone on the Crown Princess Marie Chantal of Greece FBoFW
thread who has been begging for a fire for a long time, who is going to be very happy. We are finally going to get to the fire escape, foreshadowed over a year and half ago. Woo hoo!! At last!! Fortunately, it is just after Mike finishes his novel, so it can still become a best-seller. My predicted sequence is now:
1. The Kelpfroths are responsible for the fire, of course, and get their just due for setting it, which will either be:
a. Eviction for setting the fire in clear violation of smoking policy, or
b. The humiliation of having Mike save them from the fire, or
c. All of the above
2. Mike’s family escapes the fire down the fire escape and moves in with Elly, just in time for Christmas.
3. There were 2 spare rooms before Liz moved back in and now there is only 1, not leaving enough space for all of Mike’s family. Liz has a motivation for moving out. Now the question is:
a. Will Liz move in with Anthony temporarily, until Mike’s place is repaired? How quickly will she fall for Anthony, who is always there for her?
b. Will Liz move in with the soon-to-be transferring Constable Paul Wright? Will Paul be painted as not always there for Liz, because of this desire to move out of the homestead?
4. With Liz out of the house, and Mike’s place torched, Elly reconsiders John’s little train house as a retirement home, in order to make space.
5. Mike’s novel becomes an instant best-seller providing him the money to be able to purchase the old homestead from Elly and John and quit his Portrait Magazine job, so he doesn’t have to commute to Toronto any more.