Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Is Leroy Jethro Gibbs America’s Favorite Father Figure?

Is Leroy Jethro Gibbs America’s Favorite Father Figure?

By Dr. Meg

Family remains uppermost in the plot-lines of NCIS. No question exists here about who wears the pants, or who makes the decisions. Simultaneously, women integrate successfully with men, catching criminals and abiding by the same regulations of the US Navy. So, does it take a military organization to cut the nonsense and cut to the chase, too? Or do viewers just enjoy a first-rate fantasy, no matter their registration?

The major theme of the show is reinforced every time Gibbs gives Abby a hug, every time he defends Ziva, clips DiNozzo with a love-pat, and praises Timmy for his MIT expertise. Regularly, Gibbs returns to his basement workshop, just like a Father Knows Best from the fifties, to work out his frustration in private. He faithfully keeps his cool while negotiating with his new female director (and old girlfriend) just like a responsible parent sharing marital responsibilities for children who perennially need a little growing up.

Yes, Gibbs carries the burden of divorces in his past, but he always saves times to send a child a message: We’re here, buddy, and never forget it. The family theme reaches an apex, however, every time Gibbs’ own script dad turns up. Then, one dad stands right beside another: The famous father figure from the show on surviving hard times during the Great Depression, The Waltons. As Jackson Gibbs, Ralph Waite even carries the same mournful profile. But as Jethro, Mark Harmon even mentors a writer, just like his script dad. So, while the one show circles into the other, each production pays tribute to those who do not forget.  

As fathers go, the two men stay on mission, come hard times, terrorism, or grief. The ship of state stays in the basement. The women know where the men are—and that problems resolve within the hour. If only the US Congress could get this discipline into their system, there just might be more than People’s Choice Awards to celebrate. 

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