“Castle” shows a future of strong women & weak men. As for marriage…

Summary: The TV show “Castle” gives us a mirror in which we can see ourselves, our hopes and fears — skillfully constructed by the best producers, actors, and technicians in Hollywood. Among other things it shows us a vision of the changing nature of relations between men and women — and its effects on marriage. It’s how the arts help us prepare for the future.  Spoilers for Episode 2 and thereafter of Season 8!

“People need stories, more than bread, itself. They teach us how to live, and why. … Stories show us how to win.”
— The Master Storyteller in HBO’s “The Arabian Nights”. Stories also warn us, showing us how to lose.

Beckett ropes Castle in S07E07
She caught him, but later threw him back. From Castle S07E07 – “Once Upon A Time in the West”.

Sometimes, rarely, a TV show clearly shows us America in motion — evolving into something new. “Castle”, staring Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic, does so for one of the greatest events of our era: the adoption of gender roles without precedent in history. Wonderful for Alphas, bad for Betas, hellish for omegas. We see the consequences of the eponymous hero’s decay from bold strong alpha to beta orbiter. From leader to butt monkey (he’s the humorous contrast with the omnicompetent Beckett).

It’s a vision of America’s future as women become better-educated and often more fit than men (see the graduation numbers by degree). It’s a slow-mo evolution, taking years for women to transform the workplace and climb the ladders. But eventually they’ll reach critical mass and break through the glass ceiling in large numbers.

Previous posts have chronicled this as seen in the Castle – Beckett relationship. In season 6 she chooses wisely & agrees to marry Castle (rich, mild, family man), but probably dreams at night of her alpha ex-boyfriend. In the finale to the season Beckett’s husband mocks Castle, who finally sees his decay. He fakes his death to start a new life elsewhere (it was too bleak for viewers, so in mid-season they did a sloppy and incoherent explanation).

Of course it doesn’t work. Castle eventually marries Beckett. But Beckett, now a lithe hot NYPD Captain, feels revulsion for this overweight beta in her bed, and dumps him to seek adventure fighting evil at night as a Lone Ranger. We see the result in episode 3 of season 8. The show begins by drawing portraits of Rick Castle and his wife, Kate Beckett. First we see a lonely beta orbiter, sulking alone with his iPhone (transcript here)…

  • “Hello. I am your new home-operating system. My name is Lucy. What’s yours?”
  • “Uh, my name is Rick Castle, and my wife just left me.”
  • “Yikes. Sucks to be you, Rick.”

Sunkrish Bala as Vikram Singh on "Castle"
Sunkrish Bala as Vikram Singh on “Castle”

Next we see an alpha women working out with her tall (6’1″) high-IQ sidekick.

  • Beckett: “[Grunting] Can’t you hit any harder than that? [Grunting] Oh! Oh. I’ll take that as a yes.
  • Vikram: Come on. [Both breathing heavily] Listen. You can still back out.
  • Beckett: I can do this on my own.
  • Vikram: Not a chance. I’d be dead if not for you, which means I owe you. Besides, I always wanted to be a digital investigator for the NYPD.
  • Beckett: It’s a real job, Vikram. You’ll be helping the 12th solve homicides.
  • Vikram: By day. By night, I’ll wear a cape and track down the mysterious villain who sent a hit squad to kill us and scapegoat-murdered Allison Hyde.

Later in the episode we see another pitiful scene, showing Castle’s reaction to being dumped by the women he pursued for 6 years, married, and then lost — and the reaction of his family.

  • MARTHA (his mother): Richard, are you feeling okay?
  • CASTLE: Never better. Because I know how to win Beckett back.
  • ALEXIS (daughter): Is she wanting to be won back?

It’s good drama, giving us a bleak vision of the future for the majority of men in America. Few of us are alphas. Few of us are as great as Castle (millionaire author of 26 best-selling novels and a brilliant detective). No wonder many young men are “going Galt” from the dating game.


What lies ahead of us: 21stC marriage

“The world is changed, I can feel it in the water, I can feel it in the earth, I can smell it in the air.”
— Said by Treebeard, leader of the Ents, from The Two Towers— part II of Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” saga.

The first generation of situation comedies (1950s) showed marriages with relatively balanced relations between men and women. Second generation sitcoms showed marriages of strong women and weak men, foreshadowing the rise in divorce rates during the 1970s and 1980s. (see the longer trend here). Third generation sitcoms Castle shows the next stage.

Castle, like good drama, draws upon our inchoate fears and dreams about the future of the family. American women tend to seek spouses of stable and preferably higher income (aka hypergamy). Both of which have become less likely, and probably will continue to become less so in the future as women’s incomes catch up to men’s (while all workers experience greater job insecurity).

Since American women initiate 70%+ of marriages, we can expect their rising dissatisfaction with men to translate into even more divorces (often once she has a child, which the man must support after divorce). This suggests increased stress on the institution of marriage: lower rates of marriage, later average age of marriage, and perhaps another surge in divorce rates.

Are these changes good or bad?

“Nothing is written.”
— Lawrence of Arabia in the 1962 film.

Are these things discussed here good or bad?  Please consult a priest or philosopher for answers to such questions.  This website only discusses what was, what is, and what might be — seeking the understanding of events that can help us prepare for the future, and perhaps even act to make it better.

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