I was watching the premiere of ABC's "In the Motherhood" last night looking forward to feeling comforted by television creators finally able to bring to the small screen the often frustrating minutia of life as a mother of small children. More importantly, I was ready to laugh about it. Unfortunately, what I experienced most consistently was pure bafflement. How could a TV show that came out of the real stories of real mothers who wrote in to a website just for them have strayed so far from authenticity?
I understand that in transferring "In the Motherhood" to television there was some issue with the Writer's Guild and that professional writers had to be brought in to pen the scripts, and I even understand, barely, that they had to switch out the original actresses from the webisodes, Leah Remini, Jenny McCarthy and the reliably unsentimental Chelsea Handler, but what I don't understand is how, with all the new and improved fancy talent, "In the Motherhood" ended up so comedically clunky and false.
It's hard to blame the actresses, because the pacing, tone, and writing for the show, established by the producers and realized by the director, seem to be at the heart of the derailment. It doesn't appear that Richard Shepard, the director, has much affection for us mothers, since Cheryl Hines, ("Curb Your Enthusiasm"), and Jessica St. Claire ("Worst Week") who plays her supermom sister, have been encouraged to play their roles at fever, often to the point of hysterical, pitches. And I couldn't help but notice that Lucy Ricardo had more affection for the salami she smuggled on a plane from Italy dressed up as a baby than Ms. Hines is allowed to have for her 15 month old on this show. The third wheel of this Mommy triumvirate, the reliably funny Megan Mullally, ("Will & Grace") employs her usual sarcastic detachment, but to little comic affect given the task at hand of faking a pregnancy for no other reason than getting free stuff. It's too contrived for even someone with her talent to pull off.
Running the risk of sounding "touchy-feely", where is the love here? The real comedic moments of being a parent come from the push me, pull you affects of loving something and hating something, someone, okay your own kid, at the same time. Without the love, it's just schtick.
Surprisingly, the laughs to be had are inspired by the Manny played with understated calm and a smoldering wit by Horatio Sanz.
"In the Mannyhood," anyone?
|Dani Klein Modisett is the mother of 1-year-old Gideon (pictured) and 5-year-old Gabriel. She is comedy writer/creator/producer of the show "Afterbirth...stories you won't read in Parents magazine." An anthology of stories from this show will be published by St. Martin's Press, in stores in May 2009.|