September 18, 2019

The Fake Realness of Motherhood in "Workin' Moms"

“Workin’ Moms, which premiered on Canadian TV in 2017 but has gotten a major boost from its recent arrival on Netflix, markets itself the way many, many other parenting-focused pieces of media do: as a “real” show that tells the “hard truths.” A press release bills the show as a “raw and honest look” at how its main characters “juggle their burgeoning identities as mothers,” and a tweet from its official account asks “Can we all just be brave adults and admit that adulthood is really fucking hard?” But instead of rawness or honesty, Workin’ Moms offers up patronizing “hard truths” about motherhood in an infuriating, tonally confused, and ultimately harmful way.

The most obvious and glaring problem with Workin’ Moms is the privilege of its main characters, which is blinding, exhausting, and all-encompassing. (I know, talking about privilege was tiresome and old seven years ago, but this show warrants an exception.) The main character is an ad exec who, like Don Draper, understands how to “tell a story” and “connect to the client.” Her main problems in balancing work and family come from repeatedly telling her family she will leave work at 5 p.m., then failing to do so—the main ramification being that people are briefly mad at her. Watching this show, you would have no idea that the lack of affordable day care options is a weight around the necks of millions of parents in both the U.S. and in Canada, nor that such a thing as day care even exists. (The babies are universally cared for by nannies or stay-at-home parents.) You would certainly be unaware of the real costs of being late to pick up your child, including $1-a-minute fines, or the fact that the lack of affordable day care can mire people in poverty.

Kate (Catherine Reitman), who returns to work after nine months of (paid) maternity leave, is somehow able, on her first day back, to fire her nanny for feeding her son formula—even though, five episodes later, she’s somehow fine with doing it herself. Kate’s mother parachutes in to help, then her sister follows shortly after. Both are a little annoying and a little quirky, but also seem to have plenty of time to provide free on-demand child care—something real families almost never have. Each of the four women is partnered with a supportive, if sometimes bumbling husband (or in one case, a wife).”

Read more

JJ Editor's Picks

"Congratulations, Mr. President. It took an extraordinary effort, but you finally managed to spark a serious global crisis. I know you don’t like to share credit, but don’t worry. The current mess in the Middle East centered around Iran is all..."

"We’re approaching the anniversary of one of the nastiest political battles it has been my misfortune to witness—the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court despite credible accusations of sexual harassment and assault and his..."

"There are few one-offs in life on Earth—rarely can a single species boast a trait or ability that no other possesses. But human language is one such oddity. Our ability to use subtle combinations of sounds produced by our vocal cords to create..."

"He walked through the coffee shop door and scanned the crowd. A familiar smile bloomed as he recognized me, despite how my appearance had changed over the years. I’m bald and bearded now, and heavier. I wear an extra decade on my face, and I’m..."

"The poverty rate in the United States fell to 11.8 percent in 2018, according to data released last week by the Census Bureau — the lowest it’s been since 2001. But this estimate significantly understates the extent of economic deprivation in..."

"Streaming is the future of TV. But for now a big part of the streaming business revolves around old TV shows. Latest case in point: Netflix is paying a lot of money for the rights to show Seinfeld to its 150 million subscribers around the world..."

"On the eve of the second Israeli election of 2019, there is no shortage of apocalyptic rhetoric about the potential consequences of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election. From the New York Times' editorial column to The Forward’s..."

"Is there a backlash toward the technology industry in the culture? I tend to think so, having written about its various twists and turns most weekdays for the past couple years now. But sometimes an obsession with a beat can lead to myopia, and..."