“WORKIN’ MOMS” FEELS ODDLY FAMILIAR
Workin’ Moms makes you feel great about yourself
When people think of good TV they probably don’t think of a Canadian show. Except for the couple shows here and there that have won the world’s attention, Canadian TV shows are largely ignored—even by their own citizens. But before you ignore Canadian TV all together, you need to experience the awesomeness of Workin’ Moms.
Starring program creator and producer Catherine Reitman, as Kate Foster, Workin’ Moms is about a group of Toronto professionals who are a hot mess. They haphazardly balance work life, family responsibilities while still trying to maintain a sense of themselves. But don’t let the name of the show fool you, it’s for everyone. The series is filled with colourful characters who are absurdly entertaining to watch.
Foster is the centripetal force of the show; every character some how connects back to her and it’s quite deserving. She is very likeable and has an uncanny way of making others feel comfortable. She is soul-warming simply because of how relatable and natural her character is. And makes those who are not all together and who are weird— the kind of adult who still watches anime or Hentai to be specific—feel seen. So it’s a joy to watch her character progress, flounder in different social situations, and interact with her icy-cold, headstrong best-friend Anne Carlson (Dani Kind). You don’t need to be a mom to connect with Kate, but maybe just a little strange. However, you if happen to be contrarian and you decide that you don’t like Kate, in her place, you are sure to find a connection with Frankie Coyne (Juno Rinaldi) a chill real-estate broker with an ability to find lightness in almost every situation. And countering her selfless and smooth presence, Jenny Matthews (Jessalyn Wanlim) a self-centred woman with tunnel vision directed towards her career instead of her family, speaks for the dysfunctional. Their personalities perfectly complement each other in the first season of the show and they immediately draw you in.
The point is, Workin’ Moms makes you feel great about yourself. Like other shows in the quasi-realism genre (think Catastrophe) Workin’ Moms doesn’t shy away from the unpleasant issues that are frequent in real lives. Kate faces issues at work, her husband betrays her trust, Jenny faces postpartum depression, and Anne. So the self-deprecating spirit of the show is reassuring. It reminds viewers that they are doing OK because let’s face it, Kate is a wreck, but lovable. She creates space for conversations about the unfair pressures put upon women to have everything together. And reminds us that it’s crazy how society pushes family responsibilities against women as if their gender automatically assigns them to a life of servitude. Foster contextualizes this sexism in a bite size comedy show meant to inspire mistrust in the systems we all hold in place and often accept without reflection.
At its core, the show is a parody of the formulaic main stream plot about the nuclear family and the women in the stories who somehow manage to maintain their sanity while handling everything by themselves. And so, throughout the series, typical lazy husband stuff happens: Kate’s husband Nathan (Philip Sternberg) becomes like a child, begging for attention, while also expecting her to drop everything to become the homemaker he imagines. In doing so, it forces her to face an impossibility: shedding a piece of herself to make her husband happy or attaining her dream. In the end, he pushes Kate against a wall and it makes her unrestrained instead. It’s frankly the most epically hilarious spiral you’ll likely see from our modest Canadians.
The show sustains you with lightweight humor; it’s low maintenance. It’s an easy and comfortable watch. It’s not even thirty minutes long and yet it’s so enjoyable that the time flies by while watching. Foster sleepwalks you through a bit of laugh out loud moments, drama, and even the quirks of marriage. All the while, her character Kate says the outrageous things that everyone was thinking about but was too mature to say. That’s why Foster is brave; especially considering how she touches on how her lips are strangely shaped. (While watching, I immediately noticed it but felt bad for even considering them to be weird.) But Foster gives you permission to think what ever you want. Her mind is fundamentally wild and it’s fun.
Still, the show seems to peak at season three. Following its explosive third season finale, season four feels uninspired, toned down and far too mellow which is uncharacteristic of the energy in the show. It’s unavoidable though because Kate dissuades from her contemporary identity and falls prey to the regrettably unfortunate aspects of heterosexual normative relationships: having to sacrifice for the good of your kids (since your husband likely won’t). It’s too bad because before the errors of season four, the show is unblemished.
Although its power wanes at the tail of the series, Workin Moms is worth a watch because of how funny it is. It’s no Veep, no Catastrophe but it has it’s own special quality of weirdness and playfulness deserving of an audience. Will you become a better person after watching it? No, but don’t write it off because somewhere deep in Foster, still glimmers the faint potential to revive the series into something incredible. Canada’s earned it because Schitt’s Creek isn’t cutting it.