Thursday, August 22, 2013

Someone Should Make a Reality TV Show About SAHDs...Oh...Wait...What? They Already Did?

*picture credit:
From the same people who brought you Intervention, Duck Dynasty and Storage Wars, A&E premiered it's first of it's kind, stay at home dads reality show last night called Modern Dads.  The show follows four dads in Austin, Texas: Nathan the 37-year old new dad of 1 year old Cormac, Rick the vet with a 10, 7 and two 1 year olds, Sean the stepdad to two girls Arwen, 8 and Joopsy, 5 and Stone the single dad to 5 year old Danica. Here is A&Es write up of the show, but the shortened version is it's a bunch of guys, not unlike the guys I spend a good bit of time with, who are the primary care givers and just raising their kids as best they can.

I have to be honest, I wanted to hate this show. I wanted to watch one episode and blow it off as complete horseshit. I was convinced it was going to be a completely inaccurate portrayal of what it is we do as stay at homes dads. That it was going to either be a little tight around the neck or completely falling off the waist with regards to the "reality" of being a man and being a primary care giver.

Over the past two years, the dad groups I have been a part of have been contacted by reality TV show casting executives and I have done nothing but duck, dodge and avoid all correspondence. But I am a little jaded. I have a good friend who is involved in reality TV. After the shows she's worked on seasons had ended, I always looked forward to sitting down over a couple of drinks and talking about how it all came together, how the cast is behind the scenes, how the producers create content and just about anything else you could think about or want to know about reality TV show as a business. What she had to say was always entertaining, but it was like slap stick comedy; it's always funnier when it's somebody else getting hit in the face with humble pie. So when some of the other dads and networks I am part of asked what I thought about a reality TV show for dads and potentially being a part of it, I told them to knock themselves out, but that I wanted no part of it. My days are tough enough without adding cameras and a national audience to the mix.

It's not that I take this gig too seriously, it's quite the opposite. I get a kick out of the dads that are instantly bruised anytime the media portrays them as bumbling or incapable of performing the tasks of a care giver. If you are confident in your parenting skills, as a mom or a dad, then who cares what the outside world thinks (okay...maybe I do a little bit). I'm admittedly a bumbler from time to time. Not to mention that this whole SAHD concept is new to society. There are people who don't get it, who don't believe it, who think we're completely crazy for wanting to do what we do and others who are unaware of us altogether. I run into these people on a daily basis. I don't want these people getting to tune into my routine and I don't need their judgement. I already have an internal battle on what I screw up on a daily basis, no magnifying glass needed here thank you very much.

However, there is a difference between going on morning shows to talk about the SAHD life and then being cast in a reality TV show. Look at Jon and Kate Plus 8, now nobody wants twins (or an Ed Hardy t-shirt for that matter). Like every pre-pubescent teenager, I wanted to be different and misunderstood. I'm stupid like that. Nice to meet you.

But the show is great. It's really, really great!

From the first minute into the show, there are some great bits. Stone's daughter is in the bathroom and she yells out that she needs to be wiped. He tells her that she wipes herself at her mom's house, to which she says that she still wants him to wipe her. He does. Nathan has a crazy fear of stopping his car when his son is sleeping, because he believes Cormac will wake up. So when he picks up Sean, he has to swing the car door open for Sean to jump into the moving car (spoiler alert: Cormac wakes up anyway). Rick is tasked with planning his 1-year old twin daughter's birthday party, which you can see his wife does not think he is capable of handling. Yet he pulls off a great renaissance party with the help of the other dads.

I was disappointed when the episode was over, thinking it should have been an hour long and not a measly half-hour. I now want to move to Austin and hang out with these guys. I don't want to be on the show, don't misunderstand me, I just want to throw back a few beers and have a few laughs. One thing that people ask me is, what is this whole stay at home life like? And I always have these sarcastic, curve ball and sometimes drab responses (depending on the day you ask me and the mood that I am in). But this show sort of nails it. These are the interactions that I have with my kids, with my friends and with my wife. Planning birthday parties and serving dinner is all fine and well, but that's only half of the job. The skeptic in me is looking forward to seeing how they handle the hard stuff like disciplining, bad moods, unexpected schedules and how marriages work after kids. For now though, kudos to A&E. Granted this is only the first episode, but I'm hooked and the series recording on the DVR is set.

Simply put, if you are a stay at home (mom or dad), you'll appreciate this. If you are the working parent, you'll find this entertaining. And if you are neither, you can learn a little something.

Modern Dads is on the A&E network every Wednesday at 10:30pm/9:30 central. Check it out!

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