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I Feel Bad ... do you?

Sitcoms find the humour in the everyday.  Hence the term “situation comedy.”  However, few have delved into those truths that most of us refuse to admit.

I Feel Bad is a new Thursday night comedy from Amy Poehler that has decided to reveal women’s dirty little secrets to the world.  But fortunately, the writers tell us, it’s okay.

The series’ heroine is Emet, a married, working mother of three who’s trying to be everything to everyone.  And she’s failing at it.  But it’s okay because she feels bad about it.

In fact, every episode focuses on something that Emet feels bad about: she lies to her kids; she’s a hypocrite; she manipulates her husband; she gets sick of being needed by everyone; she doesn’t want to turn into her mother.  (If you’re a woman, those last two may hit particularly close to home.)

Some things Emet does try to improve on, leading to some rather odd predicaments and circumstances for the whole family.  Fortunately, more often than not, she decides to accept her flaws (and live with a little guilt about it) because, well, that’s who she is.

I can relate to the second half of the equation.  I feel bad that I don’t care about the dirty paw prints on my kitchen floor by the back door.  That I don’t accessorize well because I just don’t care to put that much effort into it.

Okay, it’s a pretty anemic list.  Should I feel bad that I don’t feel … more bad?  Ah, guilt.  It makes for great comedic moments on television, and trips to the gastroenterologist in real life.

Women have been dealing with guilt since Gloria Steinem told them they could – and should – get out of the house and have it all: family, career, a life.  However, if you take the theory out of the rhetoric, real life makes the balancing act just a little more complicated.  Hence, Emet’s ongoing issues.  But she’s not the only one.

Recently, The Big Bang Theory’s new mom, Bernadette, started hiding out alone with a bottle of wine in her kids’ backyard playhouse after work.  She even lied to her husband about where she was.  It’s a sure bet that most audiences could relate.

I don’t even have kids and I can understand the need to escape.  My pets follow me everywhere like I’m a freaking pied-piper.  Some women can’t use a public bathroom if there’s someone in the next stall.  Me?  I don’t remember the last time I took a wiz without a four-legged audience.  But I feel bad if I close the door and see those paws poking under the crack with the accompanying whimpering and snuffling outside.

So I guess I do have a few more things that guilt me into odd behaviour.  Fortunately, I have fewer witnesses.

I also have a deep affection for Emet and her ongoing failures.  They take the guilt off me. Unfortunately, I Feel Bad hasn’t had stellar ratings this fall.  But it’s okay.  Perfection is highly over-rated.


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