Sometimes a Man Stands Up

Mark Miller
2 min readAug 26


Photo by @invadingkingdom on Unsplash

This is a synopsis of a screenplay I wrote over a decade ago. Even as it deals with heart-wrenching family dynamics, our current political environment make this story reminiscent of a bygone era when politics seemed so much less brutal.

SOMETIMES A MAN STANDS UP is a family drama set in the context of Washington DC politics. A divorced father, with shared custody of his two children, struggles with an ambitious ex-wife as she moves from legislative aid to the wife of a prominent politician to First Lady of the United States.

Following a divorce and the loss of his cherished family life, Josh (a high school physics teacher) does what he can to maintain a normal life for his kids even as his ex-wife, Sara, becomes increasingly consumed by her political career. After Sara marries a prominent widowed politician, things get worse.

When Sara’s husband becomes a candidate and then President of the United States, the children become political props. The campaign seeks to portray Sara as the ultimate post-feminist mother — career woman, shared custody, amicable relationship with her ex, well-adjusted children. Josh and Sara’s co-parenting and their agreement for the children to attend public schools play well for the wife of a modern Democratic Presidential candidate. Josh becomes increasingly isolated and depressed.

After the election, things go awry with the children. Their son, a high school freshman, is videoed fighting at school. Daughter Dana (a college freshman) is videoed drunk at a college frat party. The videos go viral. The White House and First Lady circle the wagons and apply pressure to get the children to move into the White House and attend private schools. Josh is powerless. His anger and depression deepen. He is forced out of his teaching job and abandons a love interest.

After Josh relays his story (anonymously) to a men’s support group, one of the men convinces him to “man up”. Having stayed totally out of the media during the run up and aftermath of the election, he now decides to grant cable news interviews. Implications about the First Lady’s behavior, and by inference White House pressure, cause a predictable public stir.

Then Dana comes home one night, upset at the all-too-public fight between her mother and her father. But also because she’s pregnant and wants an abortion. Josh is the only one in which she can confide. Dana convinces Josh to abandon his fight with her mother.

In freeing himself from the struggle, Josh finds a new life, a new love, and an even stronger connection to his children. SOMETIMES A MAN STANDS UP has a warm and satisfying ending.



Mark Miller

Retired engineer; former university faculty; sometime statewide political candidate; part-time raconteur and provocateur.