×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TV Review: Bravo’s ‘Extreme Guide to Parenting’

Feelings of superiority and gawking are both staples of unscripted TV, and Bravo has successfully wedded them in “Extreme Guide to Parenting.” Basically, the series brings the voyeurism of “Hoarders” to the more relatable if imprecise art of raising children, introducing families whose good intentions place them on the fringes of what even the most diligent parents might consider normal. Still, such extremes are out there, and the series is riveting in a way, if slightly uncomfortable when contemplating that the kids have been innocently drawn into an entertainment that invariably sets up their parents as objects of curiosity and derision.

The first episode, notably, focuses on two families and winds up feeling incomplete, while a second, considerably stronger, follows a single brood for the entire hour. In the debut, a mom with a difficult tyke describes her approach to child-rearing as “shamanistic,” which includes liberally spraying aromatic therapies all over herself and her kids. Across the country, a gay couple suffocates their toddler with affection, refusing to leave even for a few hours to let someone watch her without them around.

In a later episode, another couple fears vaccinations, and wants to throw a chickenpox party, thus exposing their toddler and others to the disease early as an alternative. The wife, Christian, also talks wistfully about cooking up placenta (yes, most mammals eat theirs) and advocates “elimination communication” — essentially letting the kid run around diaper-free, assuming she can intuit when the next deluge might occur.

To the skeptical eye it is, at the risk of sounding uncharitable, a freakshow, however earnest the parents might appear. And that, of course, is the principal source of the program’s appeal. “I don’t care about anyone’s decision regarding my parenting style,” Christian says defiantly — and unconvincingly, given how much she seems to seek others’ approval.

For Bravo, the show has the potential to become the guiltiest of pleasures — a chance to judge other people’s parenting foibles and feel perhaps a bit reassured about one’s own. Moreover, for a channel chasing a female audience under 50, concerns associated with children (often relegated to the role of mere accessories in the “Real Housewives” shows) are prevalent and potentially lucrative themes.

Granted, some viewers might be overcome by the “ick” factor in this, especially in the way these families are exploited. Yet given their apparent commitment to their views, one suspects that being given a platform to present them is compensation enough, and the promotional tie-ins/interviews with the likes of “Today” and “Dr. Phil” practically write themselves.

In short, Bravo hasn’t done anything here to advance the cause of parenthood. But from a bottom-line TV perspective, it just might have struck the mother lode.

TV Review: Bravo's 'Extreme Guide to Parenting'

(Series; Bravo, Thurs. Aug. 7, 9:30 p.m.)

Production:

Produced by Punched in the Head Prods.

Crew:

Executive producers, Amelia D’Entrone, Craig D’Entrone, Lauren Lazin. 60 MIN.

More TV

  • THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON

    Samsung Offers 'Tonight' Audience Different View of Jimmy Fallon (EXCLUSIVE)

    Samsung wants to change the way viewers look at Jimmy Fallon. Monday night’s broadcast of NBC’s “Tonight Show” will feature no opening monologue and no traditional sit-downs with guests. Instead, Fallon will open the program by telling viewers that the entire episode has been shot with the Samsung Galaxy S10+ smartphone, which features an ultra-wide [...]

  • Netflix Producing Second Turkish Original, 'The

    Netflix Boards Second Turkish Original, 'The Gift,' Starring Beren Saat

    Netflix has announced its second Turkish original, supernatural drama “The Gift,” toplining local star Beren Saat, who is best-known for playing the lead in female empowerment drama “Fatmagul,” which was a global hit. Shooting has started in Istanbul, with British producer Alex Sutherland (“Argo”) shepherding the eight-episode show, which is produced by Turkey’s OG Medya [...]

  • Daily Show Viacom

    DirecTV, Viacom Avert Blackout After Marathon Negotiation

    DirecTV and Viacom have agreed on a carriage renewal pact covering a raft of Viacom’s cable channels after a marathon negotiation over the weekend. In a joint statement early Monday, the companies said: “We are pleased to announce a renewed Viacom-AT&T contract that includes continued carriage of Viacom services across multiple AT&T platforms and products. [...]

  • Osmosis

    Netflix Feeds Fantasy-Hungry YAs in France

    LILLE, France —  The series the audience was about to see on Sunday night at Lille’s central UGC Cine-Cité multiplex wasn’t even playing in Series Mania’s main International Competition. But in many ways, Netflix’s” “Osmosis” was certainly among the most-anticipated of shows at this year’s festival. The excitement before the screening was palpable, and pointed [...]

  • Series Mania: Q & A with

    Series Mania: ‘Hierro’ as ‘Southern Noir’ and an Industry Groundbreaker

    LILLE, France —  Banijay Rights-sold “Hierro” begins with sea, land, air and fire: Shots of the stunning volcanic isle of El Hierro, the most westerly point of Spain’s Canary Islands, with its black basalt rock, brown iron-rich gravel, white waves pummeling the coast, trees trunks twisted by wind and lava, a juniper bent double by [...]

  • Shekhar Kapur to Direct 'Ibis' Trilogy

    Shekhar Kapur to Direct 'Ibis' Trilogy for Endemol Shine (EXCLUSIVE)

    Acclaimed Indian director Shekhar Kapur is to direct a TV series for Endemol Shine based on historical novels by Amitav Ghosh, known as the “Ibis Trilogy.” The deal was announced at Series Mania in Lille. The books “Sea of Poppies,” “River of Smoke,” and “Flood of Fire,” are set in mid-19th century Asia. They interweave [...]

  • ‘Lambs Of God’ To World Premiere

    Lingo Pictures, Endemol Shine’s ‘Lambs of God’ Set for Series Mania World Premiere

    LILLE, France — Lingo Pictures Productions and Endemol Shine’s new Australian limited series “Lambs of God,” based on the Australian novel of the same name by Marele Day, world premieres on Wednesday, March 27 in the main International Competition at this year’s Series Mania festival. The series follows three devout nuns, the last sisters of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content