Created By: Lurkerbunny on February 18, 2009
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Husband Housework Disaster

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Do We Have This One??

It's the moment every husband dreads: His wife is leaving him. Well, not quite. Maybe she has a job, or maybe she's taking a much-needed vacation, but either way, that means he has to do.... *dun dun DUN* The housework.

Naturally, he will protest. His friends will make jokes about him being emasculated. But, eventually, he will accept his fate. After all, he wants to be a good husband. So, he kisses his wife goodbye, she leaves, and then he prepares himself for his duty.

Cut to 10 minutes later. The floor is covered in garbage, there's stuff on the walls, the sinks/toilets/dishwasher/washing machine/all of the above are overflowing, and something is burning in the oven. In more outrageous shows, there might even be a wild animal in the house. The phone rings, it's the wife.

Wife: How are you, honey? Is everything okay?
Husband: Oh, everything's just fine! (the curtains catch fire in the background)

This is probably a Discredited Trope, but then again I don't watch many new sitcoms.

  • Numerous occurances on The Simpsons.
  • The Mork and Mindy episode "Mindy And Mork", although in this case he wasn't her husband (yet).
Community Feedback Replies: 37
  • February 18, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    The movie "Mr. Mom", staring Michael Keaton.
  • February 18, 2009
    Lincoln
    Yeah, I've seen this tons of times, but I don't remember where. Would Jumanji (that board game movie that I forget the name of) have something to do with this kind of thing? Kind of a subversion but it has nothing to do with the husband

    Perhaps I'm taking too much of a 'The Money Trap' approach to this.
  • February 18, 2009
    Madrugada
    It tends to show up more incommercials than shows anymore, and the incompetence is limited to whatever the ad is trying to sell, i.e. if they're selling washing machines or dishwashers, he's going to flood the house; if they're trying to sell vacuums, he's unable to operate a broom or walk through the living room without knocking over 18 potted plants; if they're trying to sell carpet cleaning he (or the children, or all of them) can't eat or drink without major spillage, usually grape juice or ketchup on a white carpet or couch; if they're selling paper towels, he's unable to pour a glass of milk without overfilling the glass and making a mess.
  • February 18, 2009
    Sackett
    Oh no... not Discredited at all.

    Undead Horse Trope maybe, not sure it's even that far gone though.

    This occurs all the time, it's usually an Aesop about how important and hard housework is and how men ought to be grateful for the work women do in the home.
  • February 18, 2009
    Sackett
    Everybody Loves Raymond did this, as did King Of Queens...

    It's usually a standard for any sit-com with a stay at home character.

    The newest wrinkle is for a career woman to have to take over for the Housewife, the housewife of course is worried, and trying to give the career woman instruction who is just laughing it off because how hard can it be? Gilligan Cut. Related to Feminine Women Can Cook

    I think the Rugrats inverted it for Angelica's parents.
  • February 18, 2009
    Madrugada
    The country song by Lonestar Mr Mom" sample lyrics:
    Well
    Pampers melt in a Maytag dryer
    Crayons go up one drawer higher
    Rewind Barney for the fifteenth time
    Breakfast six, naps at nine
    There's bubble gum in the baby's hair
    Sweet potatoes in my lazy chair
    Been crazy all day long and it's only Monday
    Mr. Mom

    Football, soccer and ballet
    Squeeze in Scouts and PTA
    And there's that shopping list she left
    That's seven pages long
    How much smoke can one stove make
    The kids won't eat my charcoal cake
    It's more than any maid can take
    Being Mr. Mom
  • February 18, 2009
    Mr Initial Man
    The Archie Comics have done it a few times. I think Calvin and Hobbes subverted it in that Dad was actually competent.
  • February 18, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Brad from Sorcery1101 managed to wreck the kitchen when he cooked while his wife was away despite her warning not to.
  • February 18, 2009
    Jordan
    There's a folktale from Scandinavia (and other areas) called something like "how the husband and wife traded jobs" or "how the husband minded the house" which is all about this. In fairness, this is Values Dissonance- at the time of the telling, the assumption was that men were competent and women incompetent and so the tale was subverting this. As Sackett notes, the aeseop here has a lot to do with a husband not thinking that women's work is easy.
  • February 18, 2009
    CrazyLegs
    Happened in the I Love Lucy episode "Job Swtiching" when the men and women decide to switch places for a week to see who can do the other's job better. (The same episode with Lucy's classic candy factory scene.) Ricky decides that four pounds of rice is the right amount to serve four people, and ends up with a pot erupting all over the kitchen. Hilarity Ensues.

    Also happens on Desperate Housewives during season 2, when Tom decides to become a stay-at-home dad.
  • February 19, 2009
    gyrobot
    Somewhat truth in Television, most husbands whom were born in the baby boom doesn't really like the idea of chores. However, in today's time, men like this troper is being forced to domestication. I wonder how far I am from Camp Gay...I can cook pretty well, wash and hang clothes and make hotel quality beds.
  • February 19, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Truth In Television, I once saw an old man (70's or so) go up to the counter and, holding a packet of maccaronis, ask how you prepared them because "My wife used to do this and I never learned how to cook!"

    The despair in his voice was really, really sad.

    Toradora inverts it: Ryuuji is a great cook (and generally good at doing house-chores) while Taiga is... not.
  • February 19, 2009
    Arivne
    Literature
    • The children's book Gone is Gone by Wanda Gag. A man tells his wife that he works harder than she does, so they switch places for a day. The man turns out to be completely inept at doing housework. The book is based on a Bohemian tale recited to the author when she was a child (and she was born in 1893).
  • February 19, 2009
    Sackett
    Sometimes it has both the husband and the wife fail after switching roles- I guess that would be an Aesop in favor of gender roles as well as an Aesop telling men to respect women's work.

    A Day In Her Apron? As a play off of A Mile In His Shoes?
  • February 19, 2009
    random surfer
    • The Simpsons did this - 10 minutes after Marge left the house was a disaster.
    • Semi-averted in Arthur - Mom got an outside job for a month so Dad had to take care of the house; but he's a professional caterer so he's used to cooking.
  • February 19, 2009
    Indefatigable
    In advertising, this is used in marketing cleaning products to women. The message is that you can't trust him to do it right, so instead of even asking the rest of your family for help, buy this product and you can do it all yourself and have some spare time left over.
  • February 19, 2009
    Indefatigable
    My favourite Simpsons example: Marge is spending too much time at the casino, and Homer decides he's going to make dinner for the family. He puts cloves and Tom Collins mix into a frozen pie shell, digs in and takes a bite, and says very calmly:
    Homer: Kids... let's go find your mother.
  • February 19, 2009
    dotchan
    This is inverted in Soviet Russia the urban parts of Communist China: since women have been encouraged to enter the work force, it's the men who have become the more competent cooks.
  • February 19, 2009
    patsy
    Occurs in Father Ted, though not with a married couple- The priest's housekeeper Mrs. Doyle goes on a night out for the first time ever, so Ted and Dougal try to make tea and end up setting each other on fire.
  • February 19, 2009
    Landstander
    Averted in Full House, where Danny had Joey and Jesse help him raise his kids after his wife dies but he himself loves nothing more than cleaning. A little too much.

    Played with in King Of The Hill, where Peggy likes to think that no one can top her at maintaining a home, but she grows quite jealous of her sons homemaking skills.

    Done a bunch of times in Fox Trot whenever the kids and dad are left to fend for themselves, the kitchen will inevitably be a disaster area, dinner will be inedible, and chaos will reign supreme.

  • February 19, 2009
    Kayube
    Somehow I think I've seen this a lot in Mother's Day related episodes of stuff.
  • February 19, 2009
    MetaFour
    "There's a folktale from Scandinavia (and other areas) called something like "how the husband and wife traded jobs" or "how the husband minded the house" which is all about this."

    The folk song "The Old Man" is basically this story set to music.
  • February 19, 2009
    DarkChronicler
    Happened in The Santa Clause when the Christmas turkey at the beginning caught on fire. Repeatedly.
  • February 20, 2009
    Mr Initial Man
    Brainiac has a segment "Appliance Abuse", where the Bumbling Dad left to look after the kids uses various household objects to do different household chores, like making salad with a paper shredder and an automatic pencil sharpener.
  • February 20, 2009
    32_Footsteps
    I believe Hank was also shown to be competent at household chores in the same King Of The Hill episode Landstander mentions - he just lets Peggy handle things because she enjoys it and he knows what it means to her.

    Robin Williams in the beginning of Mrs. Doubtfire was clearly going for this trope, though disguising himself as the titular housekeeper had him improve in a hurry.
  • March 2, 2009
    Sackett
  • March 2, 2009
    Somfin
    This is the Vetinari Paradox. But it's common enough that it probably deserves its own trope.
  • March 2, 2009
    Nate the Great
    Dave Barry describes this problem as well as why men stink at housework: if men do housework badly enough they won't be asked to do it anymore. Oops, did I just give away lodge secrets?
  • March 2, 2009
    Seanette
    Nate: No. Any married woman with an IQ above body temperature has figured out this little trick. As my husband can vouch, it's not reliable. [sinister snicker]
  • March 2, 2009
    JAF1970
    Inverted in Cheers, where Vera is depicted as horrible at housecleaning, and when Cliff lives with her and Norm, he does a far better job of housework than she does.
  • March 3, 2009
    Narvi
  • March 3, 2009
    Sackett
    Vetinari Paradox? Wow, that needs a more search friendly Redirect.
  • March 3, 2009
    DarkSasami
  • March 3, 2009
    NeeNee
  • July 13, 2009
    Mr Initial Man
    A Day In Her Apron is good, too.
  • July 13, 2009
    SharmHedgehog
    Every time Nagi is alone in the house in Hayate The Combat Butler, she always somehow ends up destroying it. In one instance, she lets a cow in.
  • July 13, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    The Goofy cartoon Father's Day Off. By the time Mrs. Goof comes home, the house is a shambles, the bathtub is overflowing, the iron has burned through the floor, firemen are stomping through the halls, and the cops have come to investigate a murder (Goofy let the phone unhung and the operator overheard a radio show).

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

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