In the Motherhood
Aired on: ABC
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
For weeks I had been watching the previews for In the Motherhood, a new ABC comedy, with some dread. There had been talks that Ugly Betty was soon to be placed on a shelf, possibly never to return. The fact that this new comedy was slated to air on Thursdays at 8PM EST only made things worse – that was the time Ugly Betty was slated for and I am a devoted Ugly Betty fan. Could it be that the rumors were true and that In the Motherhood was about to replace Ugly Betty in its time slot on Thursdays? I was resolved not to watch this show when it aired on March 26, 2008, but the first few minutes changed my mind.
In the Motherhood actually began on the internet as a series of webisodes featuring true-life stories of motherhood acted out by the likes of Leah Remini, Chelsea Handler, Jenny McCarthy and Eileen Galindo. Each webisode was about five minutes long. Discovering that this site was rather popular, someone got the bright idea that changing the cast and stretching the length to a half hour would qualify In the Motherhood for primetime television. ABC liked the idea and a show was born.
The revamped version of In the Motherhood stars Cheryl Hines as Jane, a recently divorced mother who is struggling to balance her working life with her home life while still trying to find time to date. Her sister Emily (Jessica St. Claire) is a happily married stay at home mom who strives to be the best mother she can be. Megan Mullally stars as Rosemary, close friend and mother of a teenage son who we have yet to meet.
In the premiere episode of In the Motherhood, Emily is so intent on having an honest relationship with her kids that she decides to have the Santa discussion with her two young children yielding disastrous results. Jane is struggling to understand the changes in the dating world while still attending to her children’s needs as well as the needs of her job. Rosemary decides that she has had enough of observing pregnant women and all of the perks their pregnancy earns them. With the use of an overstuffed insect, she embarks on a social experiment born of jealousy and a need for attention.
After watching In the Motherhood for a few minutes I was weirded out. Something was missing – the laugh track. Most comedies have one, but the laugh track is distinctively missing from this show. Perhaps the creators did this to impart some reality into the show. After all, the show is supposed to be based on true life stories of mothers around the world and there is no laugh track associated with real-life motherhood. Unfortunately, I have never watched a comedy that scorned the laugh track and lasted more than a season or two. For some reason, even though you should be intelligent enough to know when to laugh, television audiences need the laugh track to be a part of their comedies.
This is not to say that In the Motherhood isn’t funny. I must admit that I laughed often and quite heartily at the antics of Jane, Emily and Rosemary. Of course, as in the show Will and Grace, Megan Mullally steals the show. She instills that same spoiled brat mentality into this new character that adds an extra dose of comedy to her actions as she fakes pregnancy to get all of the perks and attention she believes pregnant women receive. The Santa debacle is quite funny as is Jane’s ruined date spent at a sexual harassment in the workplace class thanks to her boss, played by Rachel Harris. It’s good to see Rachel Harris again – I loved her in Notes from the Underbelly. There is some rather funny adult humor included on this show, including a song that I wouldn’t want my children singing along to. This show was not exactly meant for children so I would caution you against watching it with your little ones about.
So, yes, this premiere episode of In the Motherhood was a success, but will the series as a whole be just as successful. Yes, motherhood does have quite a few funny anecdotes and yes, the In the Motherhood website receives funny stories about parenting every day from real-life moms, but can the series continue to capture the interest of its audience or will it all become old hat after a couple of episodes? Only time will tell. As for my Ugly Betty - well, In the Motherhood was fine for a one day replacement, but I would rather see Ugly Betty in the Thursday night ABC lineup for the rest of the season.