Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ultimate (Fictional) Fathering Championship

Into the octagonal ring stride the two competitors. From the land of TV comedy/drama strolls bumbling then humbling "Eight is Enough's" Dick Van Patten. Emerging out of the ice fog of "reality TV" is beleaguered, ostensibly laid back Jon Gosselin of "Jon and Kate plus 8."

Patten played the married then widowed then married newspaper reporter father of eight children from 1997 to 1981. Gosselin, who told a recent interviewer that in one of the surprises to fatherhood he had lost his job shortly before his wife gave birth to sextuplets (adding to the twins they already had), is now "employed" as host to a production crew three days a week who shoot him acting like a dad; co-author of a new book, Multiple Blessings; and co-producer of a website peddling Gosselin-branded stuff.

It is much easier to debate the numerous cultural issues and clashes highlighted in the two shows than it is to debate "who is the better dad." And it is impossible to imagine there being much entertainment if they really were to slug it out, given their shared Pillsbury Doughboy(dad) shapes. The real excitement for the couch potato living on the edge (of naptime) is, "if they were real" or "in real life" would Dick (who did have two sons in real life) or Jon be the better dad?

So, who wins?

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