…Okay so I didn’t FORCE my son to watch The Kardashians, more like tricked him into watching it.
Normally I don’t even watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians, but I’ve been out sick with what a doctor called “at the very least, Bronchitis” and was sitting on the couch trying to work while my kids were in school. During my nebulizer treatment (sexy!), I flipped past The Kardashians and gave it a shot, figuring that if I didn’t hear all the dialogue over the machine, I’d survive.
The show is pretty ridiculous and mostly shallow, but I saw a few things great things. First, I now love Lamar Odom. His trip to the dentist was awesome. I loved seeing this giant tough guy who is afraid of the dentist face his fear, say silly things while high on anesthesia, and then feel very accomplished for having faced said fear. Very cool!
Even better, the pep talk he gave to brother-in-law Rob Kardashian about losing his hair was one of my favorite man-moments in reality TV history… which I’m ashamed to admit I am sort of an expert in. Odom’s self-acceptance for being bald, and his loving support of Rob about his (possibly imaginary) hair loss was open, sweet and as unforced as anything reality TV has to offer.
But that’s not what I tricked Izz into watching with me.
When we were sitting down together on the couch, I cued up the just-aired episode of The Kardashians where Rob goes to therapy with his three super-star sisters and his mother, who manages the girls’ careers. I don’t know (or really care) about the history of this family, but it was obvious that Rob was really mad at his sister Kim (the one with the famous ass, you know her).
When they sat down in family therapy for the first time, the therapist asked Rob about a blow-up with Kim. Rob seemed angry, but when asked what he was truly feeling, he started crying… Really sobbing. His two non-Kim sisters seemed to feel really sad about this, and everyone—especially the therapist and sister Khloe—repeated how important it was that he was crying, and how good it is to cry.
The show was on in the background of our house, my sons’ hands full of Legos. And even though I didn’t point it out, my oldest watched the interaction between the family in the therapist’s office, rapt. Lately he’s been doing this new thing where, when he gets upset, he either gets mad at someone else or he bottles it up and walks away and says he’s fine. I want him to see some healthy models of men crying or talking about their feelings, but I can’t exactly go around and make men cry all day long. I mean, who has time for that?
Instead, via a goofy reality TV show, he witnessed a man explaining that he feels unheard by his family, then cry, and watched as the man was comforted and affirmed for crying and told it was a good thing.
I just hope there isn’t a lot of media fallout around Rob’s emotions. I believe, and I’m not the only one, that the strict binary of emotions men are allowed—“I’m fine” and “I’m angry”—in our society is brutally damaging to men and society as a whole. It leaves no room for the experiences of daily life as a human being, and it completely disallows for the experiences of men who’ve survived physical and sexual abuse, war, loss, heartbreak, neglect and anything else other than losing your first pick in the fantasy football draft.
So I tweeted my support to @RobKardashian on Twitter, and hope that some of you will do the same.
See? We can learn something from The Kardashians! Who knew?