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Friday, June 22, 2012

My Two Dads

In the year 2012, there are admittedly all different types of families out there.  One of the most common types of family is the so-called nuclear family, which is a family that consists of a mother, father, and at least one child.

However, this does not mean that this is the only type of family that one can see on the street.

The truth of the matter is that there are a lot of families that some people may label as “unconventional”.  I’m sure you might know what I mean by that.  Single-parent families, step-families, families with same-sex couples raising children, foster families...the possibilities are endless.

But, does this mean that these families are any more or any less important than the standard nuclear family?  I say no.

As far as I’m concerned, it shouldn’t matter what makes up a family.  All that matters is that the people within a family are happy and healthy, and grow up to be loving, caring, productive members of society.

And if you look back through the world of television sitcoms, there are lots of examples where this is the case.  Take a look at “Full House” for example.  The three girls in the family were raised by their father, their uncle, and their father’s best friend after the death of their mother.  It certainly didn’t make D.J., Stephanie, or Michelle turn into drug addicts.  Well, the characters on the show, anyway.  On “Sabrina the Teen-Age Witch”, Sabrina was raised by her two aunts, Hilda and Zelda, and despite having magical powers, she grew up quite grounded.

On “The Facts of Life”, you could say that Blair, Tootie, Natalie, and Jo ended up forming their own family of sorts, with Mrs. Garrett acting as House Mother.  On that note, you could look at “Diff’rent Strokes” for a perfect example of a non-traditional family as the rich, Caucasian Drummond family took in two poor, African-American children as their own.  Even on last week’s blog topic, “Step by Step”, we can see the trials and tribulations of growing up as part of a step-family. 

As it so happens, today’s TGIF subject also deals with the idea of an untraditional family.  And weirdly enough, the show has one star in common with last week’s show, Staci Keanan.

We’re going to look back on the NBC television sitcom “My Two Dads”, which aired for three seasons from September 20, 1987 to April 30, 1990.  Staci Keanan played the role of Nicole Bradford.  Nicole grew up never knowing who her father was.  She grew up with a single mother, Marcy.  For the first twelve years of her life, she grew up happily under her mother’s care.  However, when her mother passes away, Nicole is wondering what will become of her.

TRIVIA:  Although we only see Nicole’s mother in a flashback style episode, she was played by a familiar face – Dynasty’s Emma Samms.

On the show’s pilot episode, we soon discover Nicole’s fate, and it’s probably one of the most bizarre circumstances ever.  You see, when it comes time to read Marcy’s will, there are two men in attendance.  One is financial advisor Michael Taylor (Paul Reiser), and the other one is struggling artist Joey Harris (Greg Evigan).  The reason why both men happen to be there soon becomes clear.

The first thing that you need to know is that Michael and Joey used to be the best of friends.  They were quite close, and they swore to themselves that nothing would ruin their friendship.

Unfortunately, Marcy ended up getting caught in the crossfire.  She had the misfortune of having Michael and Joey falling in love with her, and as a result of this, Michael and Joey’s friendship ended.  Certainly at the will reading, Michael and Joey’s rivalry continued, and they were still quite bitter over what had happened.  After all, both men dated Marcy while she was alive, and both men thought that they would end up being the last man standing.

What neither one of them knew was that Marcy had a secret.  You see, Marcy had gotten involved with both men before Nicole was conceived, and well, Marcy didn’t know exactly which one was the father.  And, since Maury Povich didn’t end up getting a talk show until the 1990s, she had no idea which man fathered her child.

So in Marcy’s will, Marcy clearly stated that since she didn’t know whether Michael or Joey was Nicole’s father, she wished for both men to have joint custody of Nicole.

Naturally, both men are completely shocked by the news, and upon meeting Nicole for the first time, they’re not exactly sure how to deal with the situation.  In fact, I think this is a great time to post the link to the pilot episode, which you can see if you click HERE and HERE.

So, clearly, you can see that the sudden arrival of Nicole in the lives of both Michael and Joey didn’t really do much in terms of melting the frostiness between first.  But after both of them got into a huge fight which hurt Nicole they soon realized that they were being jerks, and they made a pact to try and get along for Nicole’s sake.  Of course, the fact that the judge who made the ruling for Nicole to live with both Michael and Joey, Judge Margaret W. Wilbur (Florence Stanley), also contributed to their decision, as Nicole would have been placed in foster care otherwise.

Of course, this step also helped mend the friendship between Michael and Joey, and by the series end, both men had completely repaired their friendship with each other. 

TRIVIA:  Florence Stanley’s character also appeared on the NBC sitcom “Night Court”.

So, that’s the story behind “My Two Dads”.  Over the three seasons that the program aired on NBC, Joey and Michael tried to balance parenthood with dating, jobs, and other aspects of daily life.  Initially, Michael lived in an uptown neighbourhood, while Joey lived in an artist studio with Nicole splitting time between the two men’s homes.  But after Joey accidentally gets Michael evicted from his apartment, Michael moves in.  And, Judge Wilbur ends up becoming a familiar face as well, as she ends up buying the apartment building that Joey lives in, making her a regular character as well.

TRIVIA:  Other famous faces to star in the program included Chad Allen and Giovanni Ribisi (as two boys who have crushes on Nicole), and Dick Butkus as the owner of the diner below Joey’s apartment.

Now, here’s where the sitcom becomes even more heartwarming.  Michael and Joey automatically assume the responsibility of taking care of Nicole and her well-being.  No questions asked.  And Nicole’s personality helped win the hearts of both Michael and Joey.  To them, it didn’t matter whose kid Nicole was.  Both of them loved Nicole as if she were their own. 

Mind you, there was one episode that aired in 1989 that almost answered the question of who the father was (It’s an episode entitled Pop, The Question, if you’re curious to watch it).  At the time, Michael and Joey had a falling out, and both of them decided to run a DNA test to determine which one of them was Nicole’s father.  The only problem was that they ran the test without letting Nicole know, and she was very upset that they had done this without consulting her.  Nicole manages to get the results, and tears them up, showing Michael and Joey that she didn’t care about what the results said.  To her, both men were worthy of being her father.  This caused Michael and Joey to patch things up between them, and as a result, the viewing audience never found out which father was really the father...if either one was, that is.

In fact, the only person who ever found the truth out was the judge, and she never told anyone.

But that was what was great about the show.  No, we never did find out if Joey or Michael was Nicole’s dad...but by the end of the series, it didn’t matter at all.  She was still happy, well taken care of, and in fact, she helped the men become more responsible, and happier as a result of her coming to live with them.  Even at the end of the series, when Joey had to move to San Francisco, Nicole never stopped loving him, and lovingly referred to Joey as still being one of “her two dads”.

I think that’s all that matters in the long run.  It doesn’t matter how traditional a family is, and it doesn’t matter how unconventional a family is.  As long as there is love, shouldn’t that be enough?

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