I had the good fortune of experiencing the magical stage of life that was my formative years, between the ages of 8 and 17, in the '90s. I had so much angsty music, so many chokers, and so, so many sitcoms to mold and guide me. After a healthy and steady diet of family-oriented television, I figured I would know everything I needed to know about having and raising children. Instead, I've realized '90s television lied to me about parenting. Not even little lies, you guys, but really big ones, too. You can imagine my shock, horror, and disgust. Gag me with a spoon.
While subsequent decades have certainly retained much of the format and formula of the classic sitcom, the '90s was the last decade to unfailingly stick to the tried-and-true tropes that hadn't changed much since the advent of television. One could say, to quote Friends, that it represents "the end of an era!" Now, TV comedies play with format. Gone are the laugh tracks and live studio audiences. Network sitcoms have to compete with online content and an increasing number of prestige projects on cable. The simple formats and familiar tropes aren't going to cut it like they used to, at least not across the board. And while it may sometimes seem a little melancholy to bid adieu to simpler times, I say good riddance and good day.
Why? Well, because those shows all lied to me! Lied through their perfect, pearly white teeth! So very many lies, in fact, that it almost puts my '90s nostalgia in jeopardy. Almost.
Childbirth Will Happen At The Most Inopportune & Hilarious Moment
First of all, according to '90s TV, labor invariably begins with water breaking and absolutely no warning at all. Secondly, it will happen under dramatic and hilarious circumstances (an elevator, for example) and you will most likely be attended by a squeamish and unqualified man. Third, and perhaps most importantly, you have about 10 minutes after that first contraction before a baby slides out of a lady's vagina after two to three pushes.
Imagine my dismay when I went into labor at home, at the end of the work week, in the middle of the night, and was told I could labor in my living room until my contractions were four minutes apart, which turned out to be 12 damn hours!
Your Body Will Be Back To Normal Immediately After Delivery
Literally the only thing making a pregnant woman's belly big, according to my beloved sitcoms, is her baby. Once you squeeze that little sucker out (or suckers, since twin babies seemed to be born on '90s shows at higher than average rates) you can feel free to shimmy back into those high-waisted jeans. Next episode (which I can only assume translates to next week in the real world) you're going to be looking as fit and trim as ever.
You goddamn lying liars.
A Baby Is Only Around When It's Convenient
Seriously? Why bother with a pregnancy plot if you're not going to explore the intricacies of parenthood?
How many times did Ross and Rachel ever actually interact with Emma?
Children Age Extremely Rapidly...
The "Murphy Brown Having A Baby" plot line in 1992 was notorious for two main reasons. One, it ridiculously drew the ire of Vice President Dan Quayle, who effectively blamed the L.A. Riots on a fictional TV character having a baby out of wedlock (oh: you think I'm joking?) and the fact that in the span of five years, Baby Avery was 10 years old.
TV babies, apparently, age in dog years or something. I was comforted and yet simultaneously disappointed to learn that babies, like all humans, age in human years.
...Or They Don't Age At All
If the Simpsons aged in real time, Maggie would be 28, Lisa would be 36, and Bart would be 38. At this point they have been 1, 8, and 10 years old for 28 years.
As previously stated above, I'm torn. On the one hand, it'd be nice if your babies stayed babies for ever. On the other hand OMFG, can you imagine being stuck in the toddler stage for almost 30 years?
When Life Gets Routine, A Wacky Cousin Will Come Along To Live With You...
Apparently real life, unlike '90s sitcoms, doesn't care a whit for ratings or retaining viewers' interest. So, even in my most boring times, I've never had an entertaining relative come to live with me under circumstances that are never satisfactorily explained or sustained.
...Or America's Top Music Act Will Inexplicably Visit Somehow
You guys, famous bands, singers, and celebrities have never once had their tour bus break down in front of my house. No one famous has ever sung at a school dance because I wrote them a letter. Celebrities have not attended my child's birthday when I promised them they would, even though I didn't have the connections I said I did, but then they showed up at the last minute because reasons.
TV PROMISED MY LIFE WOULD BE FULL OF CELEBRITIES AND I AM NOT OK WITH THE FACT THAT TV LIED.
You Will Never See Your Youngest Child & No One Will Ever Mention How Weird That Is
Judy Winslow, we hardly knew ye...
Seriously though, Family Matters: why did you find it necessary to play poor Judy like that? You just stopped talking about her after more or less ignoring her for three or four seasons. Not even Jan Brady of The Brady Bunch was asked to suffer such an indignity. Fortunately, steadily phasing out your children is deeply frowned upon in the real world.
Your Child Will Have The Same Teacher From Middle School To College
I'm really, really bitter about the fact that Mr. Feenys are not assigned at birth and see us through every major milestone in our lives. Deeply bitter.
All Important Conversations Happen While Sitting On The Edge Of Your Bed
Heartfelt music will play in the background. Said conversation will end with a hug. You guys, Bob Saget is so wise.
In real life, my children tend to require most of their heart-to-hearts when I'm in the middle of writing an article with an immovable deadline. Or cooking dinner. Or when we're out running errands and they want to pitch a fit in the middle of the store before calming down and tearfully opening up to me. You know, only during the really "convenient" times.
Children Can Live Happily Unsupervised In A Water Tower On A Studio Lot In Burbank
It worked for the Warner Brothers (and the Warner Sister). What could possibly go wrong?
A lot, in fact. Turns out — and, yeah, I learned this the hard way — water towers are actually filled with water. Fortunately my children can delightedly tread water for hours, so they were OK when I came to check on them a few days later.
Your Dog Will Be So Well Trained
TV dogs never bark, poop on the floor, chew the sh*t out of your furniture, or require special care. If they do get into mischief, it's always to an hilarious end. They are perfectly trained and their comedic timing is impeccable.
Real dogs are adorable, but literally the last thing they care about is remaining calm, quiet, and clean in order to make your life easier. Bless their doggy hearts, but they can be a pain in the butt.
You Will Always Have An Annoying Neighbor Kid In Your House
From Kimmy Gibbler to Steve Urkel to Doogie Howser's BFF neighbor Vinnie, every sitcom lead seemed to attract the friendship or interest of a boisterous neighbor. This neighbor would never go home. For some reason they would always be with the main family, even on what were obviously very expensive vacations.
Growing up, I often described myself as my best friend's Kimmy Gibbler, because I was frequently at his house and accompanying his family on assorted outings. However, there was a limit people. So far, neither of my children has attracted the interest of an offbeat neighbor kid who raids my fridge or, frankly, makes me concerned about why the never want to be in their own home.
My Most Marketable Child Would Have A Catchphrase
Disappointing. My youngest is dimpled and adorable and if she could just come up with an adorable, quotable catchphrase I could very easily see her face gracing shirts and novelty items for years to come.