Monday, 26 April 2010

Would you seriously go on Supernanny?

An email dropped into my inbox the other day, sent from the local parenting association.

"The casting director of ABC's Supernanny is looking for families in XX (name of our town) to appear on the show. If you are interested, please take a look at this flyer".

Intrigued, I open up the flyer and have a read. It informs me that: We are sending our producers around the country over the next few weeks to find the next amazing families for our show, and will be in the New York area for the next few weeks. If you are interested in appearing on the show, please email the Casting Team ASAP. If you are one of the lucky families that don't need Supernanny Jo Frost's help, but you would like to anonymously refer another family, please feel free to pass their contact info on to us.

Now, the more I thought about this, the more I wondered; who would subject their family to Supernanny? I found the last sentence particularly surprising - because, if you did get referred anonymously, wouldn't your reaction be fury rather than 'oh, yes, that's rather a good idea, what thoughtful friends I must have'?

I haven't really watched Supernanny for a few years, but I have definitely seen a fair few episodes in my time. I have nothing against Jo Frost per se; I'm sure she's very good with kids and indeed, if she were to come and offer me some free advice, not for TV consumption, I might even take it. (If she could persuade Littleboy2 for instance to stay in bed once he's been put there, or actually take part in his swimming lessons, that would be fabulous).

But the show always seems to follow the same formula, whatever the problems with the kids. Family in crisis, Supernanny comes in, points out that the parents are doing it all wrong, changes a few things and Wham!, the kids are suddenly much nicer and more well-behaved.

So, basically, your whole parenting style is immediately opened up to scrutiny, with Supernanny pointing out exactly where you've been going wrong, whether it's weak discipline or not paying the children enough attention. Now, I'm not a perfect parent - and I have two spirited little boys who can behave extremely badly on occasion- but I wouldn't want the whole ABC primetime audience, not to mention my friends and neighbours, being party to my failings. Would you?

Of course, this is a well-worn reality show formula - Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares follows pretty much the same model, with Gordon magically coming in and sorting everything out. I've always wondered, again, why anyone would subject their restaurant to this treatment - OK, you might get a short term lift from the fact that Gordon's changed the menu, but surely what everyone will remember in the long term is that you were a useless restauranteur who didn't know what they were doing. However improved the food/decor/service, you would be 'that restaurant that was on Kitchen Nightmares' for the rest of your days.

Similarly, if you appear on Supernanny, you must run the danger of forever being known as 'that family with the awful kids who had to get Supernanny in'. And what would your children think, when grown up, of their childhood tantrums being played out on on the screens of the nation?

Clearly there are large numbers of people who do not feel like this; maybe they'll simply do anything to appear on television, or perhaps desperation, (either with their restaurant or their children), has driven them to the point where they can't think rationally about it. I'd be interested to know if anyone out there has ever been tempted.

In the meantime, I'm sorry Jo Frost, but I don't think we'll be needing your services just at the moment. In any case, my children just won't stay on the naughty step, so I know in advance that it wouldn't work.........

16 comments:

Nota Bene said...

mmm....I think you're throwing a strop. Now go and sit on the naughty step until you calm down...

conuly said...

Oh god, the magic editing is SO OBVIOUS in that show. I don't believe for one minute that some of those families really "improved" as much as it looks.

Although there *are* some families I'd like to anonymously submit. You know, for the lulz. Hm....

Bush Mummy said...

I have to confess to a previous nasty little addiction to that programme 'House of Tiny Tearaways'.. did you see it?

I was actually watching it whilst in labour with Mini, having contractions every 5 minutes but saying to my husband 'no we can't go to hospital.. I've got to watch to the end..'

Sad but oh so superior to Supernanny..

Would never EVER air my parenting techniques on national telly. I'd be locked up.

BM x

PS gather you've hooked up with my friend Gaby in Toronto?

Muddling Along Mummy said...

I'd rather lose a limb than open my family up to that kind of scrutiny, not least because I'll be putting my children into the public eye and that can't be undone

I mean, has Jo Frost ever found a nice family where they are doing ok but could use a few new tools to get things a bit better but aren't in crisis, um probably not great TV

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Hell would freeze over. Not because I don't need SuperNanny's help... but like you say, just wouldn't want everyone seeing what I'm really like behind closed doors... I already know I shout too much, don't want everyone else to know that too!

mothership said...

I must confess that my fingers are ITCHING to refer a certain family in my town. And no, I'm not worrying that they'll never speak to me again because they're ALREADY not speaking to me again because I noticed that the Supernanny auditions were on here and I joked that we should all go and line up - Five might actually do her homework - and I purposely didn't say anything about their child (or anyone else's who was present). However the family in question must have known I was only half joking in regards to them because the invitations to dinner which used, slightly embarrassingly, to come at least twice a week have now STOPPED COLD. So I think they took offence.
But to be honest. I think they could do with Supernanny because their 6 year old has never slept in his own bed, never slept through the night, bullies other children mercilessly while being a big crybaby himself, and (here is the kicker) STILL BREASTFEEDS.
Ok. I'm awful. I know. But I had to tell SOMEONE.
(does this mean you all won't ask me to dinner anymore either?)

Home Office Mum said...

Sometimes in my really bad parenting moments (like when I behave more like a 2 year old having a tantrum instead of being the mature, adult giving firm but consistent loving discipline) I imagine there is an imaginary supernanny camera on me. It immediately makes me take the children out of the cellar where they've been locked....

Knackered Mother said...

I love Supernanny. No, really I do. Because without it, I wouldn't be able to think - on my bad days - well, at least I am not as bad as those parents who scream at their chidren ALL THE TIME. Selfish, I know x

nappy valley girl said...

NB - Only if you bribe me with chocolate...

Conuly - Hmm, I think we all know a few!

Bush Mummy - yes, I'd probably be locked up too. Have exchanged emails with Gaby, thanks! Love the thought of you glued to HOTT - surely you were just putting off the inevitable?

Muddling Along - I suspect those 'amazing' families don't make it into the show.....

Britin Bosnia - exactly. We could probably all do with her help. But do I really want it to provide the nation's evening entertainment?

Mothership - Sounds like they could do with rather more help than Jo Frost! And yes, I think we probably all know people we'd like to refer....not sure I'd have the gall to actually do it though, how 'anonymous' would it really be? I'll still have you to dinner, though - unless you refer me!

HomeOfficeMum - that is quite a useful exercise. Know what you mean about throwing a two year old strop yourself....

Knackered Mother - well, there is that. There is always someone worse than yourself...or even better, worse AND prepared to air it on TV!

Iota said...

I'm thinking people get paid for going on those shows? No?

I definitely wouldn't. It would scar your kids for life, don't you think?

I love being described as a wise bird...

mothership said...

I think it would be cruelty beyond belief really to refer someone. It's just amusing to think about it *choke, snicker, gasp*
I do wonder about the people who go on it - must they be THAT DESPERATE to be on the TV that they'll air their dirty laundry? And agree with Iota, scars the kids for life, film is forever etc..

Expat mum said...

Every time we watch that show, the Ball & Chain asks what they do when the Supernanny approach doesn't work. I mean would they actually show her failures? I don't think so.

A Modern Mother said...

I have a few families in mind to nominate, but no, that show is not my cup of tea, so to speak!

nappy valley girl said...

Iota - it's an interesting question. I imagine they do get paid, but probably not very much. Anyone who works in TB know?

Mothership - I didn't really think you would refer someone! Seriously, I wonder if they get many people agreeing to appear after being referred? What a strange world.

Expat Mum - I'm sure those ones end up on the cutting room floor..

A Modern Mother - I'm very jaded with all those shows now - Wife Swap in particular makes me cringe.

Tanya (Bump2Basics) said...

Anonymously refer another family? Imagine that! What fine, thoughtful friends would do such a thing?!

Sweeping generalization, but those families that go on the likes of Supernanny are akin to those that would go on a chat show - not afraid to air their dirty laundry for some time in the spotlight. It wouldn't be for me either.

conuly said...

Mothership, either I or you hangs out with the wrong crowd, because I see nothing at all strange about cosleeping at six nor at breastfeeding until six or seven (which is the upper end of the normal breastfeeding age, worldwide). I mean, my niece nursed at bedtime until five, and she's a normal kidlet.

Admittedly, the bullying is a problem, but lots of kids do that and they aren't all of them being raised according to AP practices.