Since mothers “behaving badly” has proved to be an insta-eye-catcher, from tanning mom to Toddlers & Tiaras, it’s really only a matter of time before other networks start considering the potential dollar signs — even kids’ ones. While there are a wealth of “bad mommy” stigmas that make everyone from Lenore Skenazy to The Real Housewives appealing to watch, there isn’t that much cultural distance between watching mothers joke about how “kids make for great tax write offs” and “selfishly” describing their Brazilian wax while they dump the baby for a vacation. It’s all inconsistent with the great preciousness of modern parenting. American motherhood is practically splitting at the seams with expectations, stigmas, and judgements. So unfortunately candidness and even humor about mothering can often be manipulated into that same gawk factor that keeps the always present mommy shaming afloat.
Such is the important lesson now imparted to Viacom and therefore Nick Jr. who decided to go all edgy with their NickMom programming block. Katie J.M. Baker at Jezebel reports that the network is looking to captivate all those “bad mommies” with some naughty girl-time shows. It’s not porn, just women talking about getting their kids circumcised, the awkwardness of the sex talk, and maybe that one time their kid peed in their mouth. Baker writes that the programs do feature “lots and lots of sex” talk but that the segments are spun as moms-only time:
NickMom now offers moms four original series with titles such as MFF: Mom Friends Forever, NickMom Night Out, and Parental Discretion on a nightly basis, from 10 PM to 2 AM EST. The programming is geared toward the stereotypical “Bad Mommy”: the yoga-pants wearing, Skinny Girl Margarita-swilling lady who — don’t tell anyone! — reads Fifty Shades of Grey while Billy’s down for his afternoon nap. “At a certain point in the evening, hopefully the little ones are in bed, and this is an opportunity for mom to get some much-needed me-time,” NickMom senior vice president Bronwen O’Keefe told Newsday...NickMom’s website’s says “since being a mom is a 24/7/365 job, we’re gonna give you the break you deserve”…
But as we all know in the parenting blogosphere, mothers who partake in a drink or two, confess to parenting being a little more challenging than they expected, or invite some humor with their diaper duty, aren’t exactly met with the warm bosom of the sisterhood. “A growing number of parents,” according to Baker, have launched a Change.org petition to have the programming block removed. While some issues with the network’s new direction seem pretty valid, such as the “anti-dad” memes on the company’s official Facebook page and accusations of racist content, many parents just seemed peeved that they no longer have a 24/7 PG-rated babysitter for their kids. Complaints about the show’s new raunchy content have mothers, especially those on the west coast in which the programming comes on earlier, in an uproar over how to get their kids settled down for bed. Apparently, some parents hold Nick Jr. responsible for their kids’ inability to sleep.
Holly Lotte from Chillicothe, Ohio, commented on the petition that she holds the network responsible for her possibly autistic son (he’s getting tested) getting upset every evening:
Every night at 10 my son starts crying and is fussy for the rest of the night ever since this NickMom comes on. We have basic cable (time warner cable, 75 channels) and there is NO other cartoons on. You people don’t have to cope with the tons of kids who are upset who get their shows taken away. What if they’re sick? What if they’re teething or had a bad dream and want to watch TV some? What the heck are we supposed to do then? NOT EVERY CHILD GOES TO BED BEFORE 10pm.
Kimberly Fiskratti from El Cajon, California expects an apology from the company given that Viacom exposed her snowflake to some naughty language:
I don’t appreciate you putting bad words and sex talk on a TODDLER channel. I don’t appreciate you disrupting our bedtime routine…I don’t appreciate you introducing this garbage into our home…If you have any morals, you would remove NickMom from NickJr, it simply is not appropriate on a TODDLER channel. Also, I would like a formal apology for introducing my child to the bad language and sex talk that he was exposed to on your channel when we were expecting to see a show made for toddlers.
Parents feeling betrayed by a trusted kid’s network might be reason enough to get a little heated. But some of the anti-NickMom ladies feel entitled to go after women who might enjoy said programming. Or moreover, the mothers who are featured on NickMom. Prepare for the huge sanctimommy parade!
Kate Wood of Callahan, Florida writes:
What real mom sits around with other moms and sips margaritas at 9:30 on a school night?? And why would I want to watch a tv show about women who do?? Good mommies are at home taking care of their kiddos on week nights, and on the off-chance that their kids are asleep by 9:30, they turn their attention to nurturing their marriage, or spend a little time on themselves so they can be recharged for when those little ones need them the next day.
Patricia Johnson from Apple Valley, California comments:
You have completely alienated and offended your demographic by portraying mothers as whining, entitled and weak women who have nothing more to do than complain about their lives and their kids.
Veronica Leal from San Antonio, Texas says:
The NickMom block is disgusting; I am a mom and I have NEVER talked as vulgar as the women do on these shows.
Sylvia Woods from Beloit, Wisconsin sure takes her motherhood seriously:
It shows you what you think of mothers and putting a trashy show is a discrace to mootherhood.
Kimberly Johnson of Janesville, Wisconsin is willing to define for you what “real mothers” are made of:
As if real mothers act like that. Real mothers have moral character and the moral character is taking care of our children and rasing in them right direction. Then Viacom should be responsible for childhood rapes and killing and feeding the reperbated minds of child molesters.
Again, taking issue with the apparent new direction of the network is definitely reason to lodge a strongly worded complaint as not everyone would probably like their kids hearing words like “titties.” But embedded in the horror for NickMom is an obvious disdain for the less than precious depiction of motherhood, sullied by a few references to sexless marriages, a couple of swear words, and yes, margaritas at 9:30 pm on a school night. There’s a lot more going on in that mommy-shaming comment thread than just annoyed parents diving for the “mute” button on their remotes.
Nick Jr. obviously wasn’t aware of the uber judgey territory they were foraying into when they decided to take a stab at roping in the coveted and lucrative mommy demographic (or were they?). From the array of popular programming they see on other networks, it’s pretty safe to assume that the quickest way to spike some ratings is to simply show a mother being a little crass about “the most important job in the world.” The fact that that’s all it takes, and that such instances are still so culturally anomalous to garner such attention, reveals that motherhood still only generally comes in two flavors: sugar-coated and sanctimommy.