Workin’ Moms: Season 1 — a review

I am an incurable list-maker. This suggests that I am a planner and an organizer, and that doing things on impulse, on a whim, plays little role in my actions or interests.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I enjoy making plans, I’ll admit. At this very moment in time, I know what television episodes I’m going to watch during the next four weeks. In fact, I have a rough outline for what entertainment choices I’ll enjoy for the remainder of the year.

For example, I’m almost through Season 3 of Stargate SG-1 after watching “Crystal Skull” a few days ago. That leaves, roughly, 150 episodes to watch to get to the end of Season 10. At two episodes per week, I’ll finish watching the entire series in approximately a year-and-a-half.

I’m oddly comforted by this knowledge. I think this sort of regimented planning is a symptom of my personal pathology—the collector’s curse. Knowing what I’ll be doing, at least in part, over the next year-and-a-half gives me a goal, a purpose.

However, I believe that a plan exists only to give you something from which to deviate. Planning gives me the illusion of control. Knowing that plans are malleable, always subject to change, keeps me from getting frustrated when my plans have to be altered. The one constant in the universe is that plans will always change.

Occasionally, I will reach the end of a season (or an entire series) and have open slots available. I also keep a list—surprise, surprise—of series on my TBW (“to be watched”) file. For instance, I know I will watch Star Trek: Strange New Worlds at some point in the future, and perhaps the series Manifest.

Workin’ Moms was never on any of my lists. I was led to this series by happenstance.

Mostly.

Allow me to explain.

What had happened was, Netflix kept telling me that I would probably like the Canadian television series Kim’s Convenience. At the time, I was looking for another television series that my wife and I could watch together. Netflix knows my likes and dislikes pretty well, so I took the first episode of the series on a test drive and liked it a lot. I have reviews for the series coming down the pike, rest assured.

I believe it was about this time that I noticed that Netflix was pushing Workin’ Moms on me as well. Perhaps it was in my recommendations before Kim’s Convenience, but I didn’t notice it before then. Another Canadian series. I took a flyer on this show as well, which is how I began watching two additional series that had never appeared on my radar before now.

I’ve admitted to being an Anglophile. Wikipedia tells me that “Britophile” may be the more accurate term, but I’m not changing horses in midstream. Maybe I’m also whatever the equivalent word for a person with an affinity for Canada may be.

Canuckophile?

I’ve travelled to Canada a couple of times, and I greatly admire the country and its people. I loved The Kids in the Hall and Trailer Park Boys. Rush is among my all-time favorite bands. Poutine is okay, too. So, I’ll accept that I may be a Canuckophile.

The series is a sitcom created by Catherine Reitman for CBC Television. It premiered in January 2017. It also stars Reitman, along with Dani Kind, Juno Rinaldi, and Jessalyn Wanlim, and is produced by Wolf & Rabbit Entertainment, the production company of Reitman and her husband, Philip Sternberg. Sternberg also appears in the series, as the husband of Reitman’s character.

The premise of the series is that it follows the exploits of a group of working mothers who are in the same mommy-and-me parenting group. Kate Foster (Catherine Reitman) is a PR executive. Kate’s longtime best friend is Anne Carlson (Dani Kind), who is also a psychiatrist. Frankie Coyne (Juno Rinaldi) is a real estate agent and, incidentally, a lesbian. Jenny Matthews (Jessalyn Wanlim) is reluctant to return to work after her maternity leave, and seems dissatisfied in her marriage when she does.

The series feels a bit like Modern Family, in that it introduces a group of characters and the main premise, and then freely shifts from one storyline to another, although all of these characters remain connected to each other, through mutual friendship. Jenny deals with her relationship with her stay-at-home husband, a Chris Pratt type who wants to work on his screenplay, while struggling with her desires to stray in her marriage. Kate has to deal with balancing her career and home life. Anne’s nine-year-old daughter is causing some turmoil in her family, acting out inappropriately at school. And, Frankie is having to deal with postpartum depression.

The drama of these storylines plays out through thirteen episodes, during which we get to know each working mom’s extended family. The constant is the friendship between the four members of this core group.

Oh, yeah. By the way, there is drama in this series as well. I called it a sitcom, not a dramedy, and I stand by my chosen categorization. This show goes for the laugh as its primary goal, but heartfelt drama manages to work its way in there as well. It’s a delicate balancing act, attempted by many series through the years but mastered by only a few. Even in the first season, Workin’ Moms seems to have discovered that sweet spot between comedy and drama, and is well on its way to mastery.

Reitman has created something special here. After a single season, I can already say that. I’ll admit that I have little frame of reference for many of the mother- and female-centric topics on the show, but they feel like a realistic, three-dimensional portrayal to me. The show is definitely in-your-face at times.

The opening scene in the pilot episode features three of the leads in the show, sitting around topless and comparing their post-baby breasts. This was how the creative minds behind the show warn the viewer that the series wasn’t going to shy away from uncomfortable topics or images. And it doesn’t.

If that doesn’t deter you from watching, you’ll find things to enjoy in this series. The characters are all a bit ascerbic in that bantering sitcom way that I enjoy. The humor in the show is genuinely funny and mostly organic, arising from individual situations. The storytelling, as you would expect from a 22-minute show, is brisk and efficient, with little wasted time. At times, the episodes feel too short, even.

I have discovered that I am now a fan of all of these actors I’ve never heard of before. I am also a fan of this show.

Firewater’s You-Can’t-Let-the-Animals-Run-the-Zoo Report Card Grade: A

Try it on for size. I think you’ll enjoy it, too.

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