Kathryn Lopez

The election is over. If you're one of those odd people whose lives are totally consumed in politics, you can try re-engaging in real life again. Which means that I've caught up on the important things I missed during the election season. I'm watching Reba.

Country queen Reba McEntire released a video with rural crooner Kenny Chesney this summer, which I got to see only in the wake of the election results. It's called "Every Other Weekend," and it's sweet enough.

Reba has also been the star of a sitcom that's now a Lifetime Channel mainstay, appearing in syndication. On the show, Reba is, according to the theme song a "single mom, who works too hard. Who loves her kids and never stops. With gentle hands and the heart of a fighter." Reba, naturally, sings this tune, which ends with: "I'm a survivor."

The Reba character is a single mom because her dopey (usually the case in sitcoms) husband cheated on her. His mistress got pregnant, and now the happy couple is living next door, which at least gives him a continued role in his three children's lives. High jinks ensue, naturally, but other, deeper things happen as well. The oldest of the three children got pregnant during the course of the upheaval in the family. She and the father of the child get married, and live under mom's roof. Why am I subjecting you to this soap opera? Because, in a rare move for broken-family TV comedies it's not salacious or glorifying divorce in any way. On this show, everyone, through mistakes and examples, learns. It's a mess, but it's a redemptive one. There's goodness to it, despite it all. These characters' lives are about trying, sinning, forgiving. There is even church. There's love, ultimately: real love, not drive-by satisfaction.

Which is why I was so jarred when I saw Reba's "Weekend" video. She's had songs about nearly every kind of relationship, good and bad. She's been wronged. She's been sad. She's been angry, curious, fed up, persistent. But here, she has her daughter and son-in-law from the "Reba" show acting out her and Chesney's song, a duet about divorce.

It's complicated, as divorce can be, as marriage is. The two characters in the song clearly don't really want to be divorced. She misses him. He needs her. But they think they did the best things for the kids. But they clearly didn't: Everyone's miserable as the kids get shifted from house to house every other weekend.


Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.