Although I didn’t care for the new sitcom “In the Motherhood” (and most critics, other than Tom Shales, seemed to share that opinion), I apparently missed a sin that prompted one reader to label the show “vile.” Here is the angry letter that he sent to ABC and was kind enough to copy to Variety:
I was watching this vile show with my young son this evening when out of the blue it is announced that Santa is a made up character and parents are lying to their children about Santa being real.
The look on my son‘s face was one of shock & disappointment. I was outraged that this could happen. Outraged more that a network would allow this shameful act to take place at 8pm when families are gathered together watching TV in primetime. There was no innuendo or pretense here, just straight out that parents are lying to their kids and Santa is made-up.
How utterly cruel, senseless & disrespectful to every child and parent watching this awful show. You can be assured that ABC will never cross my screen again.
I am so upset considering what damage this has caused to the fantasies of young imaginations across the country, not to mention my own household.
Shame on you.”
Several reactions come to mind, but for some reason I can’t get past this one: Why on earth was anybody watching “In the Motherhood” with his or her child? And do families really still gather together to watch TV at 8 p.m.? I thought the kids pretty much were in one room watching Nickelodeon or playing video games most of the time, while they’re parents watched something else in the other.
As if to underscore this point, here’s a ratings tidbit that ought to make the outraged parent sleep a little easier: According to Nielsen data, 99.3% of U.S. children age 2-11 mercifully missed “In the Motherhood,” with young kids accounting for less than 5% of the program’s 6.7 million viewers.
There is, however, an interesting underlying issue here: My guess is network programmers have become so accustomed to expecting that kids have abandoned them that virtually nobody even raised the question of whether dissing the existence of Santa Claus was potentially problematic in a show that wound up being scheduled at 8 o’clock.
That said, with apologies to the outraged parent, I have to give ABC a pass on this one. Nothing in “Motherhood” was particularly believable, so it would seem easy enough to tell the kid, “It was just a stupid TV show, honey. Ignore it.” Besides, most parents recognized that the best thing for their kids would be to watch something else — like “American Idol,” which teaches them that hard work is for saps and their real ambition should be to find a way to get on a reality show.
So “vile?” Hardly. Trust me, I watch TV a lot, I know “vile” when I see it.
Oh, and for the record, I’d keep junior away from those “Peanuts” specials. At least one of them strongly implies that there’s no Great Pumpkin.