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A random child in Times Square who wanted a picture with me. Too bad reality TV made me hate him.
Lifetime is supposed to be a female guilty pleasure, right? There's that awesomely accessible gooshy pink cartoon logo. Which is just so pink. And accessible. There are all the shows about projects and runways and dancing and moms and that new one about a diva who dies to become better friends with Margaret Cho or something.
So when I heard about their new docuseries showing what happens when ALL the women in an entire tiny 1,000-population town of Yemassee, South Carolina, are forced to leave for an entire week -- thereby leaving all the men to take control and be in charge WITHOUT THE WOMEN -- I knew I had to watch.
But here's the problem. I encountered it right away when I watched the season premiere last night. And I want you to know that I say this to you not as a person but as a girlfriend. As a woman. As a member of the fellow sisterhood.
I so much more identified with all the scared shitless men on that show.
A few highlights of what happens post-women leaving on the premiere (which of course unfolds with an awesomely intense comic-book-like-style processional of women and their sensible travel luggage with accompanying lightening storm and Jeff Foxworthy narration of the entire exodus with stunning gravitas: "In the beginning, there was man and there was woman. But what would happen if all the women suddenly disappeared?")
Here's what: A total shitshow, that's what.
Crying babies. Crying kids. Screaming babies. Screaming kids. Inept husbands. Inept husbands with crying screaming kids. My personal favorites: the teenage girls tormenting their younger brother as he nearly chokes on a lollipop, a 4-year-old girl addicted to her morning routine of coffee ("She smells it and she just has to have it"), a shrieking pageant queen daughter whose bloody murder wail will serve her gangbusters in the talent competish someday and a hyperactive son who drags his live snake around the house.
Did I mention? Oh my God. DO NOT WANT.
"I've had enough," Darnell tells his screaming daughter who won't go to bed.
"I want my mommy," she screams back.
"I want your mommy, too, but she ain't here," he counters in a line that could have been crafted by Shakespeare if Shakespeare had been an associate reality TV producer cutting his teeth at Lifetime.
And I honestly found myself riddled with the same apoplectic discomfort, too. I also wanted my mommy, my daddy, my pet snake, and maybe a beauty pageant, too.
But I definitely did not want these awful screaming headache-inducing kids.
As if reading my mind, one of the night-cams on the show then eerily offered a grainy black-and-white image of one of the now motherless-for-a-week young sons grabbing a large murderously sharp kitchen knife and pacing the floor.
(Seriously though, what a helluva plot twist that would have been for Lifetime. Full on patricide. Ripped from the headlines. "The Lifetime Killer Toddler: A Lifetime Special Original Series on Lifetime.")
Worst of all, for the later-in-motherhood-inducing fears on "The Week the Women Went" there was Tammy, mom of 21-year-old Justin who claims to still "do everything for" her live-at-home ginger son -- except for bathing him. But, you know, she adds, she'd be open to that, too. You know, come to think of it -- maybe that whole women leaving the town thing isn't such a bad idea after all.
Now I realize that the point of this series, produced by BBC originally and marketed all over the world including India where it's stylized as a competition, is to make men appreciate just how hard-working the moms of the world really are.
But it also has the effect of making the entire art of motherhood look completely unappealing to a very critical demographic: lazy, impulsive, selfish aging party girls like me who should probably not be mothers if they're this dramatically affected by a fucking Lifetime show.
I guess I'm just saying that the show went off course in some way in what I needed from it in a relationship. I mean, aren't I supposed to want to leap in there to these characters and press all these screaming little babies protectively to my chest? Spontaneously lactate?
Truly, though, at the end of the day, my favorite quote in the whole show came from businesswoman Josie who speaks about the consequences of taking all the women out of the town and leaving the men and the children to fend for themselves.
"One word," she predicts. "Katrina."
Second runner-up for moments, however, goes to "The Soup"-primed footage when conservative Tracy is talking earnestly into the camera about her fears for her young daughter while, in the background and unbeknownst to mom, the daughter starts playing to the camera, all creepily inappropriately sexualized "Toddlers & Tiaras" style.
So where was I again? Oh, right.
DO. NOT. WANT.
Find Mandy long-form at http://tinyurl.com/stadtmiller.