My worry when the show started was, How do you make a show about new parents? The baby will grow up…and then what? But the secret of the show is that it focuses on Reagan and Chris navigating the transition in their lives of getting older and really settling down, while trying to stay cool and still have fun with each other. Chris’s role as stay-at-home dad is an extension of this transition in their lives, as he works to still be a cool guy and fun husband while taking care of a newborn daughter.
What makes Chris such a great character is not the fact that he quit his job as a lawyer to become a stay-at-home dad—allowing his wife, Reagan (Christina Applegate), to continue her job as a daytime talk show producer—but it’s the fact that his character isn’t solely defined by the fact that he’s a stay-at-home dad. The show does a fantastic job of not cornering Chris into a box of the macho guy jokily goofing it up as a Mr. Mom. Chris is a loving father, supportive husband, and all without stripping him of his masculinity. He takes their daughter Amy shopping for adorable baby cowgirl boots, sets up playdates, exchanges parenting tips with stay-at-home moms, and still is never made to be the butt of the joke. Chris is never made to be less of a man or more of a woman by his choice. When struggling with his decision to quit his job, his issue is always with missing his law practice, and not with “becoming a woman,” or some ridiculous claim like that that can so often come from a stay-at-home dad plot point. Thank you, Chris Brinkley, for being a stay-at-home dad, but not just a stay-at-home dad. Oh, and for being hilarious.
If you missed Up All Night‘s great first season, catch up online and watch the entire season here.
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