Strictly from a cultural perspective, “Meet Mister Mom” feels dated — as if the concept would have made better sense after the near-eponymous Michael Keaton movie of 1983. Indeed, because having a man juggle household chores isn’t exotic enough, this NBC comedy-reality show — much like the upcoming “Tommy Lee Goes to College” — is so heavily produced, the second adjective barely applies. “Unscriptcom” (which I should probably trademark) comes closer, though in this case, it also is served garnished with heart-tugging and competition elements to create a stew with a surplus of flavors, none of them particularly appetizing.
To introduce a game component, two dads are charged with looking after the house and their three respective kids while the wives are whisked away on vacation. Given the mix of shows already involved, it’s a wonder no one thought to give the ladies free plastic surgery, a la “The Swan,” so the families could swoon upon their return.
Instead, the dads are asked to oversee the kids and graded on various factors, including nutrition, time management and parenting. Like Olympic diving, the producers then add degrees of difficulty, which include tending livestock suddenly tethered in the yard (llamas and goats and pigs, oh my!), hosting a slumber party and engaging in a go-cart race.
If it all sounds rather busy, it certainly plays that way, building toward a victor who is proclaimed “Mister Mom” and — get ready for the product placement — awarded a check from State Farm. Like a good neighbor, indeed.
Frankly, the series would be more compelling if the husbands were demonstrable pricks who endeavored to keep their spouses barefoot and pregnant, as opposed to regular guys who aren’t necessarily adept at doing laundry. Nor do we spend enough time with the families initially to gain a clear sense of how involved these chaps are, so the premise requires falling back on stereotypes about gender roles.
Ultimately, the series leads to an inevitable heartfelt reunion, when the kids and dads are overjoyed to see the mother/wives. Either that, or they really are pretty good actors. “I’m not sure he fully realized how much I really do,” one of the women says of her more appreciative hubby.
Then again, she presumably doesn’t have to worry about scooping up after a llama.