A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the humor in this competition reality show, while fairly tame compared to plenty of other TV stand-up, is geared toward adults -- and moms in particular. Contestants often make light of the long-lived frustrations of parenthood, marriage, and divorce, and negative comments about kids are common (as one contestant puts it, "I'm a mom, but the only thing I don't like about being a mom is having kids"). Issues like weight, race, menstruation, ex-spousal animosity, and even child abuse are also treated lightheartedly. That said, as reality TV goes, this series rates high on the palatability scale thanks to the judges' complimentary feedback and the women's obvious respect for one another.
What's the story?
In FUNNIEST MOM IN AMERICA, some of the country's most outrageous, opinionated, unabashed mothers get behind the mic to compete in a series of comedy challenges. The winner takes home $50,000, the chance to be a Nick at Nite host, and, of course, the coveted title of the country's funniest mom. After open-mic auditions in comedy clubs across America, the most promising competitors take their acts in front of celebrity judges like Kim Coles (Living Single) and Hal Sparks, who offer feedback and advice before selecting their favorites. Then, with the help of the series' hostess, who varies by season (Sandra Bernhard, Katey Sagal, and Roseanne Barr have all had a turn), the judges narrow the field to 13 semi-finalists and then six finalists, who compete in a variety of comedy challenges and hope they won't end up being the one getting eliminated each week. The series also shows the competitors in their day jobs as moms, as cameras follow the aspiring comediennes to their homes to get a glimpse of the inspiration for much of their material.
Is it any good?
Funniest Mom in America is sure to tickle the funny bones of moms everywhere. The show's competitors -- who run the gamut in age, race, religion, and comedy style -- share common bonds in their roles as mothers and their ability to make light of the trials and tribulations of parenthood, marriage, and adult life in general. At the heart of many of their jokes are experiences to which other parents (especially moms) can easily relate, like the uncertainty of handling a 4-year-old boy who loves to dress up as a princess or adjusting to suddenly being attached to a newborn full-time.
Seeing these competitors putting themselves out there and trying something new may even inspire viewers to pursue a long-dormant passion of their own. But it's definitely more for moms than their kids -- there are often references to sex and jokes about issues like race, weight, and divorce. Many of the jokes also can cast a negative light on parenting, which might be misinterpreted by the younger crowd.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about comedy in entertainment. How are comedians' styles and material influenced by factors like their age, gender, race, socioeconomic status, and geographic location? Is it difficult to relate to a comic who's very different from you? Families can also discuss what's deemed "acceptable" for TV viewing -- and who defines what "acceptable" is. Where does the media draw the line on issues like sex, language, and racial references? Do you think the standard is too liberal? Too conservative? What makes jokes about those issues funny?