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Paternity Leave in Popular Culture: Thank you, Castle Writers!

One of the very few shows S. and I have time to watch is Castle. It’s a cop procedural now in its 6th season, pairing a crime novelist, Richard Castle (played by Joss Whedon alum Nathan Fillion) against a no-nonsense top cop, Kate Beckett (played by Stana Katic). Although the show has stumbled some since Castle and Beckett got together, it manages to do a lot of things right for this feminist viewer.

The best thing they did recently was insert a small, but very important line, said to Detective Kevin Ryan (played by Seamus Dever), one of Beckett’s team members. Ryan’s wife, Jenny, gave birth to a baby girl in the previous episode and when we see Ryan come into the precinct again (after an unknown amount of time), he is met with this line, from Detective Beckett:

“Hey, look who’s back from paternity leave. How’s [baby] Sarah Grace?”

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Detectives Ryan and Esposito at the Precinct. Image from ABC courtesy of wetpaint.com

And with that, a mainstream television show inserts an extraordinarily feminist and important topic. Thanks to Andrew W. Marlowe (the show’s creator) and Terence Paul Winter for writing this in. If popular culture is, indeed, prescriptive, and not merely descriptive, then I hope this moment shows us where we’re heading.

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