Review: In the Motherhood

Transforming a Web series into a sitcom, "In the Motherhood" mostly demonstrates that enlarging a picture often does little more than exaggerate its flaws. Cheryl Hines, Megan Mullally and Jessica St. Clair portray three mothers juggling disparate problems, but the result is tonally uneven, too-rarely funny and rehashes material that isn't as relatable as it should be to the average parent. An amusing line occasionally burbles out, but ABC's latest attempt to establish a Thursday comedy beachhead mostly just manages to make the timeslot's usual occupant, "Ugly Betty," look gorgeous by comparison.


Hines stars as Jane, a divorced mom with two young kids (one a mere toddler) struggling to manage a career and get back into the dating scene. Her support system includes a "manny," Horatio ("Saturday Night Live's" Horatio Sanz); her sister Emily (St. Clair), who's raising two young kids with her equally yuppified husband Jason (RonReaco Lee); and the free-spirited Rosemary (Mullally), who has a teenage son and, apparently, an extremely fungible moral code.


If the Web inspiration demonstrated the guilt and apprehension associated with parenthood, the series appears content to attack this terrain as obviously as possible. The two central characters, moreover, ostensibly have nothing in common and come across as unlikely friends forced to share a disjointed comedy. So while Hines' character deals with problems that are at least somewhat reality based, Mullally never advances more than a half-step away from her over-the-top role on "Will and Grace."


Perhaps not surprisingly, then, the ensuing half-hour is slightly confounding. In the premiere, Jane flirts with a co-worker, while Rosemary fakes being pregnant in order to secure various privileges and freebies. A subsequent (marginally better) episode finds Jane trying to enjoy some "me" time while Rosemary organizes a revolt among Horatio's fellow nannies -- a potentially promising gag that finally fizzles.


ABC is understandably eager to capitalize upon the "Grey's Anatomy" female fanbase by pairing this new program with "Samantha Who?" (even though its last Thursday sitcom, "Jake in Progress," couldn't establish a ratings toehold). Unfortunately, writer-producers Jennifer Konner and Alexandra Rushfield have adapted David Lang's Web creation without unearthing the inherent humanity (or much humor) in parents' fears that, amid the frenzy of modern life, they might forever scar their little angels. There's a mere hint of that, in fact, when Jane looks at her baby after screwing up and soberly says, "Now you bury that memory deep, deep down."


Not a bad line, but "In the Motherhood" doesn't birth enough of them -- which helps explain why the memory won't last for long.


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Comments

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Mar 30, 2009 12:11PM EDT
This show SUCKED!!! I have waited soooo long for it, being a major fan of the webisodes for the original concept, and it was a total disappointment. First of all, it is too over the top with situations that, as a mother of three, have never had nor could relate to... the acting is also toooo much. WHY oh WHY would they even consider changing the original cast.. alhough I never really "clicked" with the Jenny McCarthy character, I absolutely LOVED Leah Remini and Chelsea Handler. They were appropriately sinical and sarcastic and HILARIOUS.... They acted the way ANY mother would act, or better yet react, when you find your kids or your life "going to hell in a handbasket" without the crazy/cooky Will and Grace over the top reactions. I could totally see them in my next PTO meeting, gossiping in the back seats and criticizing half the moms there... The situations were also more relatable. Who among you have EVER told a co-worker to drop their pants at the office because you only have the many for the next 1/2 hour or have faked a pregnancy to the point of getting a baby shower????........ (being fat and parking in the parking spot for pregnant women DOES NOT count.. ;-) ) PLEASE!! Nevertheless, it was disappointing because it could have been sooooo good. I only wish Leah, Chelsea and Jenny could stop by in the next episode and kick these moms butts to the curb.... Oh, and BTW, I agree with the racism issue brought up by nottyboo. I was embarassed (in spanish it is called "verguenza ajena") by the way that situation was presented. It did feel like watching Roots...... there was no chemistry between the "mom" and the kids and it felt more like the master telling their servant kids what their chores were....weird, tactless, embarassing, and racist...
Default avatar cat
Mar 27, 2009 12:02AM EDT
I am shocked and uphauled about the new ABC show that premiered last night called In the Motherhood. In the first 10 minutes of the show, they showed a white mother leave her chaotic home after a long day at work to go have a drink with friends. While at the friends house, she complimented her friend on how well behaved her children were. Well needless to say, her children were Black. And what were they doing? Silently folding clothes. Well her other friend then proceeded to tell the Black children that she had some clothes in her car that needed to be folded. She threw her car keys at the kids and they joyfully ran out the room declaring how they loved to iron and fold clothes. Then once the kids returned, they proceeded to tell them there was no santa claus and simply killed their joy in imagination and beliefs. I turned this program off because early on the actions in this show was disgraceful. Your show should look into this because I definitely wouldn't encourage viewers of any race to tolerate such blatant racism. I felt like I was watching a clip of Roots.
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