Initial Reaction to American Housewife
So in watching some of my other ABC shows I kept seeing ads for the new show American Housewife and it looked funny. The premise seems to be a stay at home mom dealing with all of the ups and downs of being a stay at home mom with three kids. The ads looked mildly interesting and a good half hour comedy can be nice to have in the back pocket for a quick show to watch.
Thus I decided to give the show a shot and after the first episode something just rubbed me the wrong way. At the same time I know that pilots can sometimes be a bit different so I decided to watch a second episode, and while there were still funny moments the show still just rubbed me the wrong way. I think I pinned it down a bit and it just seems a little overly negative for my taste. Now maybe over time it will get better, but after two episodes I don’t know if I want to give it more shots.
Us versus Them
One of the first things that I realized is that throughout the episodes there just ends up being this us versus them attitude. Now some of the moms are skinny and dress alike and are kind of cookie cutters of each other. They will make somewhat underhanded compliments sometimes, but it almost comes across as the main character thinks that people are talking about it without proof that they are. Instead she often sneers at seeing these moms and ignores people who are just trying to do their job and seems to constantly act put upon. It just ends up feeling a little bit like playing the victim because she lives in a town that she doesn’t quite fit in. Instead of owning that she doesn’t fit in and not caring, there is just a lot of repetitive negativity, which is just not what I want in a show.
Feeding Into and Breaking Stereotypes
Throughout the show there has been an interesting concept of simultaneously trying to break and feed into a variety of stereotypes. It is great to see a family that is normal and that breaks some of the typical stereotypes. There is still a little bit of the doofus husband, but it definitely feels more of an equal partnership. He even encourages her to go back to work if she wants, since she had graduated with a marketing degree and her old job offered her her job back. She decides that she prefers to be a stay at home mom, but I feel like it does not explore why you might go to work. Instead saying that her raising her kids is more important than her job, which implies that if she worked that she would not be raising her kids somehow. There are other examples of this where it is like two steps forward two steps back on some things.
Compared to Speechless
I think the other problem that I am having is the fact that Speechless is so good and so much more positive. In at lot of ways the family on Speechless is so dysfunctional, but they know who they are and accept that. They do not care what other people think of them or their family and the conflict is the mother who is overprotective of her children. There is never a feeling of an us versus them mentality, but just the journey of being who you are and working in the world. American Housewife on the other hand seems to be a lot about each of the kids are doing something wrong and the other moms are terrible people, etc. There are funny moments, but the other moments just bring the whole mood of the show down.
There are better 30 minute sitcoms out there that this just does not seem worth the time for me. Now maybe I am looking too much into this and if I was in the same situation as the mom I would find it more humorous. I don’t want to diminish the fact that it is okay for a stay at home mom to question what she is doing and to have insecurities, but it is a little difficult to watch a show that seems to focus on that. I just feel like there would be a better way to show an all American family.