Effective here and there, Workin’ Moms nonetheless speaks to a strain of upscale moneyed mothers whose issues seem somewhat detached from reality.
The latest tactical acquisition by Netflix is the Canadian sitcom Workin’ Moms, created, directed, written by and starring Catherine Reitman, daughter of Hollywood director Ivan Reitman. The first season debuts today in territories outside the show’s native Canada, where it’s enjoying a third, unprecedentedly popular go-around. And it’ll attract an audience, presumably of like-minded mothers, although it’ll likely annoy those who find the characters too upscale and their problems relatively miniscule, all things considered.
The 13-episode first season quickly establishes itself as the kind of up-front, unselfconscious show about mothers and motherhood that is worthy of an admiring nod, if nothing else. Workin’ Moms is vaguely reminiscent of the ABC sitcom Single Parents, which was also about the anxieties of parenting, but with a less specifically feminine focus. The title here isn’t an accident. The problem is that ABC’s show is funnier and more likable not because it is necessarily better crafted, but because it deals with characters who, despite being outlandish, at their core feel like real people. The Workin’ Moms exist in a weird, moneyed microcosm that doesn’t really speak for most women returning to work after maternity leave without the luxury of nannies and supportive partners and friends.
Kate (Reitman), Jenny (Jessalyn Wanlim), Anne (Dani Kind) and Frankie (Juno Rinaldi) are the titular quartet, all in gainful employment, and most with problems that don’t amount to much more than whether or not to ********** at work. Kate’s husband is played by her real-life husband Philip Sternberg; the entirety of Workin’ Moms has that kind of smug, self-congratulatory insularity, as these people who’re very much alike pat themselves on the back.
That isn’t to say that the show has no moments of effective comedy or relatable truth, but they’re few and far between. The show’s native success suggests a ready-made audience for this kind of thing, and as such Netflix were smart to pick it up and deliver it globally, despite an off-putting shallowness and detachment that permeates it all. But maybe the wider audience will pick up more on how Workin’ Moms only seems to speak for a certain type of well-off urbanite mother, returning to a good job with plenty of support. That’s true for some, but it certainly isn’t true for most.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.