Thank you so much for bringing up this topic. The fact is I was raised by sitcoms. In the absence of real parental input about relationships, I absorbed all of the messages about love, body image, male sexuality, etc.
Thanks to the fact that I still use sitcoms as therapy and comfort, they are on a lot in our house. Humor-wise, I can’t let go of my notion that sitcom writers are gods. My husband uses this opportunity to point out that this line or that was — well — toxic. For example, I have an eating disorder. On Rules of Engagement, David Spade walks into a bar and says, more or less, “I’m buying drinks for anyone under 110 pounds in the bar. Oh, I don’t want to offend. Make it 115.” Of course, he has a “No Fat Chicks” plaque.
I point out that this character is portrayed as an obnoxious individual, but my husband’s point is made. Those messages are in the ether. Part of the constant reinforcement of ideas that aren’t healthy for people.
Then, don’t get my husband started on all of the impotence jokes on sitcoms. As a social worker who counsels people, he feels they send negative messages to men who deal with that problem.
I become torn, because I think that toxic monogamy is all too common. Most of my relationships until meeting my husband were toxic. Do sitcom writers only reflect back to society in a humorous, exaggerated way what is already happening? Hmm, seems like a vicious cycle to me. There is no doubt I have absorbed toxic messages since childhood about relationships, and perhaps I was even pulled into those toxic relationships precisely because I thought that was normal.
I have problems trusting my husband. I do get jealous when he talks to an attractive person. I do have issues with the list you created. That’s sad. My husband walked by as I wrote this, and he applauded your piece, too.