Family Sitcom Analysis: Alpha Male vs Beta Male Behavior

September 29, 2012

I want to take the time to analyze three of my all time favorite shows and how it depicts different types of men:

Everybody Loves Raymond – The Beta Male
Married with Children – Alpha Male Gone Wrong
The Cosby Show – The Perfect Balance

I think about relationships, marriage & being a man quite often. I’ve seen a lot of misery caused by failed marriages (in real life & on tv) and it is my biggest fear to be in an unhappy miserable marriage with an evil witch of a wife and dumb kids.

Before we start, I want to define my definition of the two types of men out there:

Beta Male: A pushover. Indecisive. Passive. Not in control of his own reality. Doesn’t stand up for himself. Lacks confidence & physical presence. Lacks charisma. Manipulative. Weak. Whiner. A wimp. A wussy. Low status.

Alpha Male: The polar opposite of a beta male. In control. Confident. Dominant. Leader. Sexually attractive. Charismatic. Creator of his reality. Strong presence. Comfortable in his skin. Powerful. High status.

I’ve associated a lot of negative traits with the beta male definition but that doesn’t mean a beta is a worse person than the alpha.

There are plenty of too-aggressive asshole alpha males. There are also plenty of manipulative whiny beta males.

The essence of what I’m trying to say here is that the beta male, by my definition, is at effect in this world: everything happens to him and he rarely is in control of his own reality.

My version of the alpha male is in complete control of his reality. He gives when he needs to. He takes when he needs to.

Everybody Loves Raymond: The Epitome of a Beta Male

This is one of my favorite shows. It is well written, acted and is super funny. I can rewatch the episodes many times without getting bored and find myself laughing out loud at some of the scenes.

With that said, I cringe as a man every time I watch this show. Something deep inside me (my heart & gut) hurts seeing Ray being such a beta male.

Ray is a nice guy. He never wants to rock the boat. He lives with his bossy overbearing wife & kids – right across the street from his overbearing mom & dad.

He works as a sportswriter, which is a plus point since sports is his passion and he always wanted to be a journalist.

His wife Debra is a stay at home mom – raising their daughter & twin boys. She is good looking (used to be a cheerleader, the popular kid in high school & is sexually experienced) & Ray feels like he got lucky and married above his level.

Debra bosses Ray around, consistently calls him an “idiot” in private, public & even in front of their kids. He is constantly begging Debra for sex and she usually turns him down.

Ray’s mom is the ultimate overbearing mom. She cooks for him. She cleans for him. She mothers him in public & private. She comes over unannounced everyday (without knocking) and tells Ray & his wife how to live their lives. She gives them parenting/cooking/cleaning/life advice.

The mom constantly makes Ray choose sides between her & his own wife. Ray is usually torn but picks his mom’s side in the end. This pisses off his wife, then Ray comes back to apologize and grovel.

Ray rarely if ever gets his way. For his birthday, Debra will toss him a courtesy sex session – for which he is super thankful. Debra is horrible at cooking and usually makes her famous “lemon chicken” which he hates but puts up with.

If Ray wants to stay late at work or go golfing with his friends – he usually hides it from his wife and sneaks around. When his wife eventually finds out, he apologizes.

Debra is also physically abusive. She hits him, dumps pasta braciole sauce all over his pants & does various other atrocities. Can’t believe she behaves this way & Ray puts up with it. It’s like salmon smacking a bear in the face. What?!

I could go on and on but every single thing in this show makes me cringe – but I love this show!

Ray is not a bad guy & Debra is not a bad wife. His family is also well-meaning. The problem is Ray is so indecisive & beta that he lets everyone tell him what to do and when to do it.

So eventually, Debra lost sexual attraction & respect for Ray and resorts to bossing him around. This happens in real life also. Women don’t want to take the lead. There are some things men are supposed to be men about and take the lead – and other things women are supposed to be women about and take the lead. Did that make sense?

Men & women are completely different. Man is supposed to be the warrior, protector & hunter and woman is the motherly nurturing person.

It’s yin and yang.
Masculine and feminine.

While it could be worse for Ray (his wife could be cheating on him) – it’s not all bad. He’s got a good looking (bossy) wife and some cute kids. His family supports him even though they are overbearing.

Things could be way worse than this.

Married with Children: Alpha Male Gone Wrong

I absolutely love this show. It’s raunchy, funny and took so many risks. Especially in the 90’s when most shows were much more tame than they are today.

Al Bundy is living a miserable life.

He is a ladys’ shoe salesman in the mall (a horrible, low status job in that world). He barely makes any money and is in absolute hell everyday, having to stuff fat women’s feet into shoe sizes that are too small for them. His car is old & broken down. He wears the same clothes all the time. Most of his underwear have holes in them. His feet stink. His breath stinks. He rarely showers.

Life at home isn’t any better.

His wife Peg doesn’t work, cook, clean or take care of the kids. She wears too much makeup & slutty clothes. She lies, spends all his money on clothes, shoes & bags for herself instead of buying groceries. She maxes out his credit cards shopping on QVC. She’s constantly stealing money from his wallet. She’s a regular at male strip clubs. She smokes. She sits on the couch all day eating bon bons – watching Oprah, Maury and soap operas.

His kids are also manipulative and lie all the time. They also take money from his wallet.

Daughter Kelly is super slutty and dumb. She wears the skimpiest tops & short skirts with bleach blonde hair. She dates older biker dudes with tattoos, drinks, and sleeps around. She is horrible at school and probably does not know how to read! Her dream is to be a weather girl or to be one of the dancing girls in a rock music video.

His son Bud is a sex starved virgin nerd type. He is the smartest of the bunch and probably the most ethical. He’s short & small in physical stature – so he gets picked on by guys and girls alike. Bud is cunning enough to outwit his sister and many of his bullies though.

Their annoying goodie goodie neighbors constantly barge in on Al and company. Marcy is a bossy feminist wife & her husband Steve is a beta male. Later Steve leaves Marcy and she marries a male version of Peggie (Jefferson D’Arcy).

So what makes Al Bundy an Alpha Male?

He used to be a high school football star. His claim to fame is that he scored four touchdowns in a single game – including scoring the winning TD in the championship game against their rivals.

Al used to be popular. His dreams of playing college football were dashed when he broke his leg (he probably could have gone pro). His life was further ruined when he got drunk and got Peggie pregnant – later being forced to marry with a shotgun to the head by her redneck family.

He’s a man’s man. He watches sports. Excels at bowling. Loves cars. Goes to strip clubs, collects nudie magazines, drinks beer & even started a men’s private club (No Ma’am).

Even though life sucks, Al still has his wits and defends himself physically and verbally. He’ll talk back to his wife, annoying neighbor, and fat customers.

He won’t hesitate to kick Kelly’s numerous boyfriends out of the house – after bashing their head into the wall. He won’t back down from fights and at the end of the day, he’ll defend his family’s honor.

Al also never cheats on his wife even though he’s had the chance many times.

What makes Al Bundy an alpha male is that he never apologizes for who he is or what he does.

Ray Barone, on the other hand, is constantly apologizing to family, friends & strangers for who he is.

Even though life sucks, he still goes to work everyday – bringing home whatever little money he can to the vultures.

Married with Children is a prime example that an arrogant alpha male can ruin his own life. Just because you’re a man’s man doesn’t result in a good time.

The Cosby Show: The Perfect Balance

This might be one of the best shows of all time. Not because it’s super funny (though it was), but because it showed us that a black upper class family exists at a time when there were really no classy minority shows on television. Not like this.

Cliff Huxtable is an accomplished doctor. He delivers babies (one of the best) at the hospital and also has a clinic office in his house. He is college educated, well read, loves jazz and has many hobbies: playing cards, fixing things (often poorly) around the house, dancing, etc.

In college, he played football & ran track.

Clair, his wife, is an accomplished attorney. She is beautiful, elegant, sophisticated, smart, caring, motherly & also tough.

They have 5 kids: 4 daughters & 1 son. The kids are overall well-intentioned & well-behaved. No dumb sluts in this bunch!

Sure, there are problems – but who doesn’t.

Cliff loves to eat junk food (hoagies, chips + soda) – even though he’s supposed to watch his diet & salt intake.

Their son Theo doesn’t want to go to college & does poorly in school. Later we find out he was dyslexic and he turns it all around by graduating college.

Vanessa is nosey & a tattletale. Later, she falls in love with her college maintenance guy – Dabnis Brickey. Cliff & Clair are upset in the beginning (since he’s so much older than Vanessa) but end up loving and accepting him into the family.

Cliff’s parents are cultured and visit sporadically. They don’t boss him around or baby him. It’s a respectable situation all around.

Clair never withholds sex from Cliff. As a matter of fact, they are very loving towards each other – even after decades of marriage. They only have eyes for each other. They dance together in the house, have small spats but quickly make up and respect each other.

Cliff is not a drunk, not a loser, doesn’t hate his life, provides a nice living for his family, yet draws the line and disciples his children and teaches them life lessons.

Cliff & Clair wish all their kids to go to college and stress a good education as one of the most important things in life.

They are rich but never show off. Their friends include people of all colors: black, white, asian, etc.

Cliff has a good friend circle with whom he runs track, plays cards and goes to jazz clubs with.

Clair is also well balanced.

Both Cliff & Clair cook – Cliff famous for his chili & bacon burger dogs.

Most importantly, the respect each other – both in public and private. Clair never calls Cliff an idiot – never ever ever ever.

Clair is not a stay at home mom – yet she finds time to take care of their 5 kids. This is opposite of Debra who nags, annoys, complains even though she’s a housewife taking care of three kids.

Granted, Clair’s kids are older than Debra’s – but I’m sure Clair was able to manage when they were younger.

Listen, I love The Cosby Show. Not because it’s super funny. But because it shows me an ideal reality to shoot towards. Is this type of life attainable? Sure. It has to be. Life imitates art & art imitates life.

Who am I: Beta or Alpha?

So what type of a man am I? Well, I’ll admit I’m more Ray Barone than Al Bundy – that’s for sure.

I have many beta male tendencies – most of which I was never aware of. As I’m getting older & growing as a man, I am slowly replacing all the bad traits with healthy ones.

I never read before. Hated eating vegetables. Thought I knew everything. Was arrogant. Was a pushover. Didn’t stand up for myself. Was at effect in the world. Things happened to me rather than me happening to things.

Today, I’m a Ray Barone transitioning into Cliff Huxtable.

I’m reading a lot of books. I’m working on my inner life by meditating, replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, eating healthy and am in the process of buying my freedom by creating my own massive passive income streams.

I’m becoming the master of my own reality.

I want to be sophisticated, attractive, charming, well-read, intelligent, tough, loving, powerful, articulate, creator of my world, etc.

I want to be an alpha male.

I think part of this desire to become better has to be from watching shows such as The Cosby Show and seeing that that kind of life is possible and does exist.

Thanks Cliff. Now I just have to find my Clair!