Thursday, October 18, 2007

OK. I get it. Robin is stupid. Merrie is smart.

The type of wordplay where you nitpick on every little word someone says and then turn it around for humourous effect is beyond any 5-year-olds I know. Nevertheless, I must congratulate Lynn Johnston on her consistency. Meredith is portrayed as a bright, but stubborn girl. Robin is dumb as a brick. I can’t fault her consistent characterization, even if it seems age-inappropriate. In today’s For Better or For Worse strip, turning Deanna’s comment, which included the word “tonight” in a response playing on that word, by using the word “morning”, is pretty clever. It’s not particularly funny, but it is clever, especially for someone who just turned 5.

Of more concern was the fact that Meredith has to be told why there is a party and who the people are. I could never have a party in my house where my kids did not know what the party was for and who was coming. In fact, I don’t remember as a kid, not knowing why a party was being held at my house. The kids have to be forewarned, or they will make trouble. The way it comes off then, is that Meredith and Robin are put to bed, and then all these people come over. They get up to investigate with little sympathy from their mother as to why they are up. ”You will sleep. You will not question the motives of the party.”

My kids have done the “Why can’t we stay up as late as you do?” argument too, but since most of what I do late at night is cleaning, my response, “You can stay up too, if you help clean” rarely gets a positive reaction. So instead, my kids turn to the “My friend so-and-so gets to stay up” argument or “It’s not a school night, why can’t I stay up late? argument. Judging from Deanna’s reaction, this is an argument Meredith has posed more than once.

What Meredith wants is to be included in the party, or at least be allowed to stay up and watch the party. She does not want to go to bed. So her response in the joke line to Deanna makes no sense. She wants to stay up tonight, so saving the argument until the morning does not suit her purpose. Once again, Lynn Johnston has given us a joke which does not fit the plot which has been presented. Consequently, you end up scratching your head more than laughing.


Blogger DreadedCandiru2 said...

'You will not question the party'. At least Deanna's consistent in beig a lousy mother. Her whole career as a mother has been nothing but letting them do what they want when they want it unless it inconveniences her. This passive-aggressive sort of nonsense works fine in sitcoms but doesn't in the real world. You'd have to be a chump not to tell a child to lay low 'cause y'had people were coming over 'cause if y'didn't, you'd have to expect this. The last five years, you've seen her horrified reaction as she's blindsided by the predictable.

12:05 AM  
Blogger howard said...


I will agree that it was pretty stupid for Deanna not to tell her kids what was going on. However, the one little defence I can give for Deanna, is that I don't think she has ever had a party at her house/apartment before where the kids weren't involved. In the past, their socializing with Weed and Carleen was always at their place.

7:08 AM  
Blogger DreadedCandiru2 said...

You'd think, like I said, she'd have taken a moment to consider how having the kids in the same building as Mike's piss-up might have maybe made things a little bit different. She can't spend that much time stroking Goldensprog's ego, can she? That's the problem I have with her; she never seems to bother thinking things through. The Pattersons, like Lynn and her fans, don't deign to notice unpalatable possibilities. Deanna, meseems, isn't even aware they exist.

7:24 AM  
Blogger howard said...


Deanna and parenting is an odd thing. I remember very well when Lovey Salzman agreed to take over a very young Merrie for a time, and the strip showed Deanna literally sprinting away. She has, from the very beginning, shown a desire not to be a mother. Therefore, I think it has a lot less to do with Mike’s ego and the fact she is caught in between two ways of thinking. Her mother was overprotective, but on the other hand, her mother would buy all the newest and best (and also by consequence safest and highest quality) stuff for kids. On the other hand, Elly would hand over all the used stuff, and while that may be more fiscally responsible, it is also a bunch of used stuff meeting whatever safety standards were in practice at the time.

When it comes to throwing a party or having friends over, Deanna is faced with two examples. We never saw Mira Sobinski throw a party, other than what she did during Mike and Dee’s fake wedding, but we can tell from that, she was a meticulous (if insulting) planner, and the wedding ceremony came off very well ultimately. On the other hand, I can’t think of a party that Elly planned where others attended, unless I go back to John’s 50th. Elly’s involvement with Mike’s wedding didn’t seem to amount to much more than paying for Deanna’s dress and taking the praise for doing that.

As for Deanna, I don’t know if she is not thinking it through intentionally, or is she is intentionally not going through the preparatory steps her mother would have done in defiance of her mother, or if she is trying to emulate Elly whose acts of parenting are almost all reactive (i.e. screaming when something goes wrong) and not proactive.

11:11 AM  
Blogger DreadedCandiru2 said...

Not only did the castoffs Elly bequeathed Deanna meet safety standards we now know to be horribly low, they've been further compromised by repetitive use. Meredith would be better off with a nest of rattlesnakes in her sock drawer than having to play with the clapped-out junk alledgedly repaired by a grinning idiot with a train fetish.

11:46 AM  
Blogger DreadedCandiru2 said...

As for Deanna's motivations, I remember whenever they met, she made a big production of thought-bubbling about how out-of-date her mother's way of thinking was, of how she was 'spoiling' the child, doing too much. This tells me that she's animated by all three things.

11:53 AM  
Blogger howard said...


I remember Deanna's usual complaint about her mother was that she didn't like her telling her what to do. Now, if that is your model for parenting (don't tell the child what to do), then today's strip makes perfect sense.

2:16 PM  
Blogger April Patterson said...

Well, I definitely sided with Dee against Mira here , here, and here. That arc actually made me like Dee. It didn't last, though. o_0

3:55 PM  
Blogger howard said...


Those citations were low points in Mira Sobinski parenting, and did briefly paint Dee as more knowledgeable than her mother. But then she talked to Elly about when to stop breast-feeding and when to go back to work and...

5:35 PM  

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