Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

An odd rant

I got to thinking about a storyline that tends to turn up in a lot of places and never fails to annoy me. I think the first time I actually remember seeing it was in the sitcom "My Two Dads" but it pretty much tends to pop up anywhere there is a questionable familial relationship.

Namely the "Let's get a DNA test!" story.

It's not that the characters choose to get a DNA test that annoys me, I think that's perfectly sensible. It's that, invariably, the characters go and get it done, end up holding the results in an envelope which is usually then bequeathed to the characters who want to know the truth the most. And then, EVERY TIME, that character(s) tear the damn thing up without reading it, because he/she/they know what family REALLY matters.

Gah, that pisses me off every SINGLE TIME.

It's not that I don't agree with the sentiment at heart. Yes, family is what you make of it. Certainly, someone who has been there for you as a parent/sibling/whatnot is your parent/sibling/whatnot regardless of whether or not there's a blood relationship. KNOWING the blood relationship doesn't matter, in the end, because your family is your family as they were all along.

But that's not what this plot point actually says.

By destroying the results of the test and never reading them, the characters aren't saying that "blood doesn't matter". If blood truly didn't matter, they'd look at the damn test. Ultimately, if both Greg Evigan and Paul Reiser are Stacy Keanan's fathers, then it doesn't matter if the results declare that the little swimmers came from one or the other. They'd both still be her fathers.

But when the characters go through all that rigamarole and take the tests and all that and then choose not to look, they're really saying "I'm lying, blood does matter, I just don't want to have to make a choice."

And that's pretty much an insult to every happy adopted family out there, I think. Certainly most, if not all, adopted families KNOW they're not blood related. And that doesn't stop them from being a family. So why can't these characters look at the damn envelope?

This isn't getting into the fact that there are many reasons why being familiar with your biological history is a damn good idea. Isn't it a good thing to know if there's cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or any other medical ailment with genetic components running through your family?

How about hemophilia, color blindness, or other nifty little genetic oddities that one could be a carrier for and never know it? Wouldn't it be a good idea to be forewarned they're there?

What if you need bone marrow or an organ transplant? Wouldn't it be a good idea to know that, hey, this guy's the one more likely able to have the right qualities to save your life?

It's just stupid. It's empty, hypocritical sentimentality getting in the way of practicality and common sense. And often these are smart and perceptive characters that decide to do this! It's positively exasperating.

If it really doesn't matter which guy is really your biological father, then look at the damn test, note down which one to check for male pattern baldness and whether there's a bone marrow match first, then take BOTH your dads out for ice cream!



  • At December 04, 2008 5:53 AM, Blogger Zaratustra said…

    Kali, honey, you're trying to make sense out of a soap opera. I'm worried about you.

  • At December 04, 2008 5:54 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    This is what too many Rules of Evidence does to your brain.

    Also, it's a sitcom. :-P

  • At December 04, 2008 9:05 AM, Blogger Greg Sanders said…

    Huh, I've been a bit annoyed with that cliche before but hadn't thought about it to this depth. You're totally right. If it doesn't really matter you can just look and shrug.

  • At December 04, 2008 9:54 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    If you watch "House" as much as I do, then you understand the need for an accurate medical history.

    What also gets my goat in sitcoms, is that there is never any weather, except for Christmas Eve, when it suddenly starts snowing everywhere.

  • At December 04, 2008 10:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree with you 100%. I've always found it fake and annoying, even when it was on one of my favorite shows (Veronica Mars).

  • At December 04, 2008 10:35 AM, Blogger Jessica said…

    When Veronica Mars ran this story, I think Veronica and her father ordered dna tests separately and unbeknownst to one other. Veronica chose not to look at the test results, but her father read them. Now I know why I was so surprised when dad read the dna results that he himself had ordered; a lifetime of bad television had taught me that people never read those things.

  • At December 04, 2008 12:21 PM, Blogger Anthony Strand said…

    That was the most entertaining thing I've ever experienced related to My Two Dads.

  • At December 05, 2008 3:47 AM, Blogger LurkerWithout said…

    "My Two Dads" should have ended with Reiser and the other guy getting married. Seriously, if you're already cancelled take some fucking chances...

  • At December 05, 2008 8:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh my god, I can't believe I'm about to disagree with your assessment of an insipid, annoying storyline.

    So points of agreement- insipid and annoying. Also, SOMEONE knowing your family history is always a good idea (although I challenge many of you out there to tell me the diseases your grandparents had)

    BUT, I sort of think the "don't look at it" part has a lot to do with real human nature. That is, if someone in the "My Two Dads" scenario *knows* who the real dad is, this will eventually be a point of conflict. "I'M her REAL dad and what I say goes!" or "That's not what my REAL dad says". So no one in the triangle knowing actually makes a little bit of sense. Now, it's important that *someone* know... wasn't there a judge or something forcing them all to live together? She should know for the medical reasons, at least and could keep the information until the kid wants to know, just like adoption agencies will keep anonymous medical records and family histories linked to each adoptee.

    Now, OUTSIDE of the "My Two Dads" scenario, where there aren't two people trying to BE a father... with just two candidates, one in the picture and one out of the picture- yeah, it makes NO sense not to look and say "who cares" after the fact. That would be a touching moment, if only because it violates the "rule".

    By the way, need a transplant? Your DNA is checked as part of the workup. Knowing who your dad is doesn't tell you your HLA type, so you'd have to be worked up even knowing exactly who your parents are. Sorry... you can call me "Dr. Anonymous".


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