TV Review: ‘Instant Mom’

Instant Mom TV review Nickelodeon

Mother by marriage? Nick's 'Instant Mom' mirrors ABC's 'Trophy Wife'

In one of those strange twists TV tends to produce, Nickelodeon and ABC have churned out almost exactly the same sitcom within a week of each other, only with different titles and racial make-ups. Enter “Instant Mom,” a fluffy half-hour of silliness coming to Nick at Nite, starring Tia Mowry-Hardrict as the young party gal who marries an older guy and inherits three kids. While this should not be confused with “Trophy Wife,” the ABC series, viewers who do are to be forgiven.

Granted, there are some cosmetic differences, like Sheryl Lee Ralph (currently featured on the other end of the spectrum in “Ray Donovan”) as the disapproving mother of Mowry-Hardrict’s Stephanie, who has trouble finding opportunities to have sex with her doctor husband Charlie (“Spin City’s” Michael Boatman) when the three kids are around.

Those weekend visits, however, are naturally about to become more permanent, further complicating Stephanie’s home life, as she struggles to be both a friend and authority figure to, in particular, Charlie’s teenage daughter (Sydney Park), even going so far as to share a slinky party dress with her, before being told she can’t let the kid go carousing on a school night.

Frankly, if there’s a weak link here, it’s Mowry-Hardrict, having spent so much time growing up in sitcoms with her twin sister Tamera that she seems virtually incapable of delivering a line without anticipating the rim shot. The kids, in fact, are actually pretty adorable, including Tylen Williams (a dead ringer for his older brother Tyler, who starred in “Everybody Hates Chris”) as the precocious middle child.

Overall, “Instant Mom” is mild and unobjectionable, and does touch (broadly) on blended-family scenarios with which a lot of kids can no doubt relate. It’s also worth noting the show is essentially color-blind — employing African-American actors, but dealing in universal themes and sitcom situations.

Nick airs this sort of thing largely to give the family an inoffensive option to watch as kids give up sole control of the box, and to that extent, “Instant Mom” fits those marching orders. Yet in terms of bringing anything fresh to the assignment, it’s perhaps a little too well titled, inasmuch as the moment it’s over, “Mom” is instantly forgotten.

TV Review: 'Instant Mom'

(Series; Nickelodeon, Sun. Sept. 29, 8:30 p.m.)


Filmed in Los Angeles by Kapital Entertainment.


Executive producers, Howard Michael Gould, Aaron Kaplan; supervising producer, Jessica Bell; producers, Chris Arrington, Tia Mowry-Hardrict; director, John Fortenberry; writers, Jessica Butler, Warren Bell, Gould; production designer, Garvin Eddy; casting, Vickie Thomas. 30 MIN.


Tia Mowry-Hardrict, Michael Boatman, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Sydney Park, Tylen Williams, Damarr Calhoun

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  1. beegeed says:

    So I’m watching a marathonmarathon- if you will, of the show. It seems better…I actually like it!

  2. beegeed says:

    They could have cast some more realistic kids…Tia is great as usual, but I just think the casting for the kids and husband wasn’t that great.

  3. Diva says:

    This show is a little dry for me. It’s not so funny. It’s a repeat of Ice Cube’s “Ar We There Yet?”, which was far more interesting with Terry Crews, Essence Atkins, Telma Hopkins, etc.
    Also, I hate that Sheryl Lee Ralph changed her voice. She did not speak like this on Moesha or in Deitrick Haddon’s movie. I am trying to figure out why she is trying to sound so baritone. This show just doesn’t do it for me.

  4. waycross48 says:

    PS. to my comment – I tried so hard to love this show because I love Tia, as I said, and Sheryl Lee Ralph is a great commedienne. I just found the show lacking any real substance. I know my comments will draw negative criticism but I’m entitled to my personal opinion. Tia is one of the few actors who has risen above the pitfalls of having been a child actor. But, it’s this show we’re talking about, and as much as I love Tia, the show just doesn’t have what it takes for me. Yes, it’s family fare, but it’s NOT a show with staying power. I don’t even see kids wanting to watch this show. I hope for the actor’s sakes it does well, but it’s just not interesting to me as a viewer.

  5. waycross48 says:

    While I adore Tia, she’s a fine actress , this show just leaves me FLAT. It’s a half-hour of one-liners, uninteresting – it simply has nothing to offer, nothing to keep me coming back week after week. I need “something” to draw me in other than 3 cute kids. WHAT has happened to shows with STAYING POWER – like Cosby, the Walton’s – shows that mean something – not just a show to fill a 1/2 hour time slot. We just don’t have those anymore. Instead we’re fed a steady stream of these fly-by-night half hour sitcoms that don’t have anything of substance to offer. Just another run of the mill show!! I was so hoping for more since I enjoy Tia and Tamera on their reality show but this falls far short of what I was hoping for. Tia delivers her lines and then seems to glance at the camera or the audience for a reaction. I don’t see this as a black or white issue – white actors delivering the same show would be every bit as boring.

  6. womanwomanski says:

    this show, Instant Mom, is the black version of Trophy Mom or is Trophy Mom the white version of Instant Mom…either way, same show!

  7. Judy says:

    I love this show! Very funny and I am ready to see more and more! Sheryl Lee Ralph is really funny as Tia’s mother. Laughter is the best medicine so keep it coming so I can stay healthy.

  8. Trayco says:

    I really liked the show. I think Tia and all of the cast did a really good job. I can’t wait to see more!!

  9. LoveGoodTV says:

    Color blind???? Really??? How many shows are on the primetime networks whose casts are of one race???? Not wise to make such “blind” comments. I watch good TV regardless of the cast makeup. In this century, who doesn’t?

  10. Carolyn says:

    I LOVE YOU TIA!!! I hope this show stays around for along time. This is the type show I grow up watching and I want my kids watching! Its good clean family fun. I havent been a fan of The Game since she and darwin left!

  11. B says:

    I agree whole-heartedly with the comments. Tia is a very talented and multi-dimensional actress with several successful endeavors under her belt. Instant Mom is exactly what I thought it would be and for you to make such ridiculous comments is absurd. You obviously just needed something to say however next please do a little more research on your subject’s background and career before you start spouting asinine comments.

  12. Pcreech says:

    I love Tia! She’s a great actress. It’s so easy to be critical when you aren’t the one on the tube. Back off!

  13. C says:

    You are absolutely right, David. I couldn’t agree more.

  14. David says:

    “Frankly, if there’s a weak link here, it’s Mowry-Hardrict, having spent so much time growing up in sitcoms with her twin sister Tamera that she seems virtually incapable of delivering a line without anticipating the rim shot…” Interesting comment Brian… considering Mowry has carried numerous series including Sister, Sister and The Game for years [her departure was clearly reflected in this past season’s nosedive in the ratings], and now Instant Mom. She has risen from the challenges of being a child/teen star, is a role model to women and girls across the US, and she IS funny with great comedic timing and chops. Were you watching the same show as all the other people who saw this pilot? It may be a little predictable, but it is a throw back to family friendly comedies of the 90’s, something television needs more of these days. Normally I am on par with your comments, but this review was just downright wrong.

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