For once, New York City moms are off the hook.
Usually, when there’s a book, movie or TV show about superficial, Birkin-carrying, size-0 women, the setting is usually Manhattan’s Upper East Side. But ABC’s “American Housewife” (Tuesday, 8:30 p.m. ET) has cut us a break and honed in on Westport, Connecticut, the coastal town 47 miles northeast of New York City. (If I lived there, I would not be pleased.)
I can’t say I enjoyed the show, but since I’m a stay-at-home-mom as well as freelance writer, I thought I might be able to relate. What I got was Jill Kargman’s “Odd Mom Out”—the suburban franchise, complete with blonde mom nemesis.
Katy Mixon (“Mike & Molly”) plays “Katie Otto,” a seemingly pleasant woman in her late thirties with a husband and three kids. Her eldest is a teen daughter with head cheerleader looks. Her son is Alex P. Keaton 3.0. Her youngest is a daughter with O.C.D. Even before we find this out, we surmise, from her glasses and Pippi Longstocking pigtails, that she’s “precocious” and has a hard time fitting in.
The Ottos are billed as “an average middle-class family” who have to move out of their league to this wealthy enclave because it had a school that could accommodate, not only her mainstream children, but the one who needs extra help. She lost me right there. In NYC, we know that one size does not fit all. A school is picked by whether it fits the child; hence you will hear moms with, say, three kids, talk about how they’re always out of breath from running among a trio of schools. And if a child with special needs is involved, they make sure that student is enrolled somewhere that specializes in teaching those who learn differently.
Then there’s the mainstay that is the basis of Kargman’s Bravo show, where Katie and her friends are not part of the condescending, tiny-butt, two Fitbit-wearing crowd. (Newsflash: everybody thinks she and her friends are the “normal” ones.)
As a 22-year veteran of motherhood, I learned long ago that the I’m-regular-and-above-all-the-craziness mothers are the biggest hypocrites of all. As I sometimes lose patience watching oddity “Jill Weber,” who rolls her eyes at her “neurotic” peers obsessing over private school admittance, then races through the streets to make sure she gets hers in under the deadline, I have none for Katie.
We are now living in an age where fat shaming is akin to killing someone. Women are told to love the skin they’re in; and plus-size models are the new It girls. Katie—who I happen to think is quite beautiful—takes umbrage with “the skinnies” who make time to exercise and run around in yoga pants to show off the results of their efforts, yet is preoccupied with her self-anointed “second fattest housewife in Westport” status, yet wants to be told by her husband and BFFs that she’s not fat. This, while polishing off her second breakfast.
To add insult to injury, the rail thin actress, and Gwyneth Paltrow look-a-like, Leslie Bibb—aka Double Fitbit Mom—is Katie’s new neighbor. Oh the antics that are sure to ensue.
If I’m going to watch a show about a harried mother who doesn’t always say and do things exactly right—at least not compared to the “perfect mommies”—I think I’ll stick to my own kind. “Odd Mom Out” has been renewed for a third season and returns in 2017.
Lorraine Duffy Merkl is the author of the novels “Back to Work She Goes” and “Fat Chick.”