Friday, February 14, 2014

Birds in the Media: Blue & Gold Macaw on "The Millers"

I'm not normally a fan of network tv sitcoms, but the other night, the show "The Millers" aired a re-run episode with a blue and gold macaw in it. The episode name was "Giving the Bird". Obviously this is main stream media, so the bird care information was not exactly 100% correct to say the least, but it was better than what I normally see on tv. The bird's cage was a decent size (although there were no toys in it which I would have liked to have seen, and just one perch). The bird also had a minor plucking issue which I thought was interesting. I wonder if this bird maybe was a pet that belonged to one of the staff members of the show?
The premise of the episode was that the mother gave the bird to a neighbor many years ago, as she felt the children were not responsible enough to handle it's care. She told the kids that it flew out the window. The kids, now adults, were reunited with the bird while trick-or-treating at the neighbor's home (this was a Halloween episode). They blamed the mother for lying to them about the bird, claimed they loved it and told the mother she was wrong to do what she did. Not to be proven wrong,  the mother proceeded to bring the bird back. She told the kids "here is your bird, here is a list of foods and recipes that the bird likes, and have fun as these birds can live up to 60 years".
And here is when the fun started....
The part that made me laugh was when they were complaining about how much work it was to take care of the bird. One character was standing over a pot in the kitchen saying she had to cook "special noodles" for the bird every day (Crazy Corn perhaps?) and if they weren't cooked exactly right, the bird would throw the food out of the cage and get diarrhea. They mentioned how expensive it was to take this bird to the exotic vet and they had to give him eyedrops which cost $200/bottle. They complained that they had to constantly clean around the bird's cage. Then the bird remembered being back in his old home and started repeating the insults the ex-wife used to tell the husband (laugh). There's more, but those were some of the highlights.
In all, yes this show was pretty silly. But the one thing I liked about the episode, was how it showed the viewers that it takes EFFORT and COMMITMENT to take on the care of a bird. A few comments made during the show such as the mother saying "honestly who would give a child a parrot as a pet!", and her mentioning the long potential lifespan were woven into the storyline. Another part showed an empty cage of which it was explained that one of the characters brought the bird upstairs with her to spend time with it.
Although not perfect, this was a pleasant change from what we normally see in mainstream media; a bird in a small cramped cage eating birdseed. I thought it was funny, because as bird owners we don't see the care of our birds as work. But non-bird people look at us and all we do for our birds and think we are crazy! Obviously one of the writers knew someone who owned a bird and incorporated his view of the bird's care routine, and an educational message about responsibility into the episode. I got a nice chuckle from it.
The bird did end up back with the neighbor woman at the end of the episode, so it ended well :-)