If you instinctively answered, “Tool Time!”, then you might be a product of the nineties, or you’re at least familiar with sitcoms from that era. I grew up watching Home Improvement with my dad; it brings back good memories and it’s a show I don’t mind my own kids watching. Coincidentally, the things I remember laughing at as a kid (things I likely laughed about because my dad was laughing, too) are things that I laugh at now because they are so relatable. The other day, my husband and I were talking about one of the episodes. It hit me when Evan was mimicking a scene from Tim’s bit that we are, in fact, living out in our own version of Home Improvement. In this particular scene, Jill is complaining to Tim about their eldest boys’ incessant bickering and is trying to come up with a logical way to correct the issue. Tim’s response? His trademark grunt, a quick room switch, and all’s well that ends well. Naturally, Jill wasn’t very happy to be kept out of the loop, but even she can’t deny that the problem at hand is, well, no longer a problem.
All of a sudden a flood of H.I. episodes came rushing to the forefront of my brain with one very clear thought: WE ARE THE TAYLORS. It could be worse; we could epitomize the Conner family from “Roseanne”. No thanks.
I’ve been putting an enormous amount of time into thinking about my theory, because, you know… I’ve got a lot of time on my hands (*snort*), and I think most of us mirror if not a full-on sitcom then at least a character, or group of characters, from a sitcom. You think I’m kidding? Go ahead. Think about your favorite show or a popular show from any era. The odds are, if you’re honest with yourself, that there is something out there that you can relate to at least a little.* Hell, a good friend of mine is practically living out “Everybody Loves Raymond”. Now that’s a show that’s great on a screen, but Lord have mercy am I ever thankful that I’m not living across from Marie, Frank, and Robert!
I think that’s the key to good writing, though. A good writer has to pull his or her audience in enough to get them invested. Generally speaking, an audience member becomes “invested” when he or she can relate to a character’s personality or situational moments.
For me personally, I can relate to Jill. I’m married to a (not-so-idiotic) Tim and I have three boys who are all wildly different and who make me crazy. Her days of being a SAHM really hit home for me as far as her feeling she isn’t living up to her potential, but I’ve also been a working momma. Like Jill in later episodes, I know what it is like to juggle work and home life, hoping everything comes down in relative calm, only to wake up to a souped-up toaster gone horribly wrong. Talk about being a chaos coordinator. Yikes!
My boys even fit the Tool Time bill. Gabe is very much like Brad — likable, funny, and a little spacey. Connor is the poster child for middle-kid syndrome, much like Randy. He is smart and quick and, somewhere down deep, a sweetheart. Mason is only four months old, but I’d be willing to lay a bet he’s calm, mild-mannered Mark. Someone who just wants to fit in and be involved. Most importantly, they are all mine and I love each of their unique personalities — even the crazy parts.
I’m not completely deluded; I know it’s just a TV show and we’re obviously not living in Detroit next to a know-it-all neighbor. But somehow, on a super weird level, it’s sort of nice to know that there’s some writer out there making up storylines about a life that, I’m just being honest, really stacks up to my own real, off-screen life. So think about it; what characters remind you of you and yours? I’ve shared with you my weirdness — now it’s your turn.
* Side note: if you’re relating to things like The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, or Game of Thrones, you’ve got bigger fish to fry and perhaps you should scale it back to Barone level. Just saying.