Why do Boomers have so many jokes that hate their wives? They're everywhere... on old tv shows, movies, standup, and even t-shirts. Contrary to what common punchlines and old TV shows may suggest though, data shows Boomers don’t actually hate their wives more than other generations. So what gives with the all jokes? We think that it has more to do with their parents and preferred comedy style rather than their feelings in real life.
Comedy and entertainment are ever-evolving forms of art, and what we find funny may not be what others find funny. Wife jokes are not specific to the Boomer generation. Their parents, the Greatest Generation, really were the ones responsible for bringing them into the mainstream. Comedians popular during the time when Boomers were growing into early adulthood like Rodney Dangerfield and Henny Youngman (both from earlier generations) made a lot of wife jokes and were really known for one-liner style of comedy. We think that it was their parents' humor who influenced Boomer's taste for wife jokes. As Boomers got older they just reflected what they considered good 'ol fashioned fun.
Younger generations love wife jokes... they just sound a little different.
More modern comedians like Louis CK, Kevin Hart, and others have poked fun at their significant others. Granted, Kevin Hart may have been talking about a girlfriend when he made those jokes, but if falls in the same category. The style of comedy has also changed. Where comedians during the Boomer times did more one-liners, comedians now tend to tell a story with added exaggerations along the way. Wife jokes are still very popular.
Did The Boomer Divorce Rate Have Anything To Do With It?
There is a myth that Boomers got married young and didn’t divorce because it was socially unacceptable to do so, making them stuck in an unhappy marriage that they resented. While their parents would have loved for this to be the case, Boomers actually got divorces left and right. And while more divorce may seem that there’s a lot of hate for their spouse, this actually prevented hatred from forming. Splitting up amicably may have worked out better in the long run for many of these couples.
The Comedy Scene Was Male Dominated For Decades
Now, something that really was passed on from prior generations was the prevalence of male representation in entertainment. Mostly men were the ones running the show on TV sitcoms, stand up comedy, film, and other media, so they made content that was a little heavy on the testosterone. Even reading the newspaper was a “man thing” in those days (though, of course, women did read the papers as well). It makes sense that wife jokes were more prevalent.
A little credit where credit is due
With all this mention of bad situations leading us to believe that the Boomer generation hated their wives it would be remiss of me is I didn’t mention that it was the Boomers themselves who rebelled against norms that chained people to bad marriages. The Boomers both witnessed and participated in important movements like the civil rights movement from the mid-50s to the late 60s, and the women’s movement in the 60s and 70s. So a little credit where credit is due.