As more and more people find themselves in stepfamilies, the ability to see other people in similar situations in the media is important.
TLC’s latest series is The mixed bouquet, which follows the contemporary Shemwell family as they navigate their new lives. The parents, Erica and Spencer, were previously married and had children with their spouses. However, both were tragically widowed and found love while participating in a virtual support group. Not only is Shemwell’s story interesting to follow; it reports on contemporary issues facing families in the United States, Canada and other parts of the world.
The mixed bouquet follows Erica and Spencer Shemwell as they navigate their new blended family of eleven children. The newly married husband and wife were both widows in recent years. Spencer’s first wife, Aimee, died in a fatal car crash, and Erica’s first husband, Tony, died after a long battle with brain cancer. The two widows met in an online support group for complainants. After 13 months of dating, Erica and Spencer decided to get married and reunite their children from their past marriages. The Shemwell family live in Utah and all of their children are under the age of 13.
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In terms of relationships, marriages, and child rearing, the modern world is quite different from what it was 50 years ago. Divorce rates are higher than ever, women have more freedom now than in the past, and remarriage is more accepted today than in previous generations. In the case of the Shemwells, they were able to regain love after being widowed, which was not always accepted or possible in society. All of this contributes to a greater likelihood that children and parents belong to stepfamilies. In fact, 16% of children were part of stepfamilies in the United States in 2009. This percentage has likely increased since then. We’re even starting to see stepfamilies more in the media, like in keeping up with the Kardashians and of course, The mixed bouquet. In a way, the blended families have become the contemporary family.
As more and more people find themselves in stepfamilies, the ability to see other people in similar situations in the media is important. Part of the reasons people love reality TV so much is that it’s relatable, human, and insightful. In The mixed bouquet, viewers get a glimpse of the complexity of reuniting children from different marriages. In addition, the series shows the challenges that parents face when merging lifestyles and beliefs in child rearing. For example, in Episode 2, Erica and Spencer discuss legal issues related to custody of their children if one of them dies. This is not a normal thing for most parents to consider or even think about. In Episode 3, parents “swap their stepchildren” to bond better with their new children.
It might seem easy being part of a blended family on the surface, but TLC has done a great job of showing opponents in these situations the face using Shemwell’s story. Even for those who are not part of a step family, it is important to be exposed to the unique life experiences that exist. The mixed bouquet is not only a source of entertainment, but also educational.
Following: Blended Bunch: Age, Names, Siblings, and Family Step-siblings Explained
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