For some reason beyond me, I put off watching this show. Actually, I do kind of know why. I was under the impression that it was a sketch comedy show (it's not) - which I do love - but I wasn't sure I could stomach a trope-y mishandling of the insane postpartum hormone cocktail I had been experiencing since I first noticed the advertising for the show.
So I waited until just a couple weeks ago to begin watching. I'm glad I finally started, because there is nothing trope-y about this show. Never the cool kid, I'm behind on yet another trend. If you, too, aren't cool (or even if you are but then are you sure you're in the right place?), join me as I start at the beginning.
*note: nothing but spoilers but also this is a year late*
If you've ever been to a Mama group, you know they're a free for all. I have been to at least three separate Mom groups where the organizer comes to explain the rules with a wink: girl, there are none. Baby yoga abides by maritime law. You do whatever it takes to make the next hour work.
The opening sequence of Workin' Moms is basically what happens when a safe space gets 'peeing with the door open' comfortable. I'm only at the (desired) midpoint of my breastfeeding journey but I can, ugh, relate to the disappointment of the postpartum body. While we may not be sitting tits out comparing the end results at the local health authority Mom group, the conversations are not so different.
You've got my attention, Workin' Moms.
I'm going to segue briefly. What I love about Canadian television is the seemingly effortless way that diversity is included. While the conversation about representation in entertainment is more important than ever, Canadian television quietly chugs along. I'm not saying it's perfect, but our TV reality seems to better mirror everyday life. From Being Erica and Orphan Black to Corner Gas and Little Mosque on the Prairie, there are people who are black, white, asian, rich, poor, straight, queer, or whatever religion - and not just as token characters.
In Workin' Moms I love seeing fully developed female characters who are going through all the shit that one does immediately after having a baby. Right off the bat we're introduced to Kate (Catherine Reitman), the ambitious protagonist who is conflicted about going back to work; Frankie (Juno Rinaldi), a queer real estate agent who has "a touch" of the postpartum (cough, I think we all do); Anne (Dani Kind), a therapist who receives news that almost no woman in her position wants to hear [Doctor: "You're pregnant." Anne: "No. I just had a baby eight months ago. She is barely alive yet."]; and a handful of other women who are provided more depth as the season continues.
Isn't that particularly important with motherhood? Like most things in the world, no two Moms are experiencing it exactly the same way. Kate goes back to work, where things have changed, but she manages to connect with a prospective client because she is still that good. Anne's husband takes the news in stride ["This is how I grow"]. And Frankie? Well, that's more open ended. Because mental health is.
For Kate, as with most of us, the conflict that comes with being a parent at work is inevitable. On day one she has to choose whether to draw a line in the sand and be home by bedtime (an often fun and/or frustrating time), or to stay late into the evening eating noodles out of a takeout box as she demonstrates her capacity to be a team player. She decides to do the latter and ends up crying, unable to escape the newest part of herself that we all sometimes wish we could stuff down.
Is having it all just a pop-culture punchline? Is this whole thing a zero sum game wherein, if you have the inclination to return to work or pursue something just for you, a deficiency in your motherhood gene is revealed? These are the questions that leave you wondering if you are cut out to be a Good Mother. And at the end of the episode, as Kate runs through a forest trail with her sweet baby boy in the jogger stroller, we understand these to be the questions circling through her mind.
Then all of a sudden, boom! She finds herself face to face with a grizzly bear.
Stripped down and bare, with nowhere to run or hide, she throws her body in front of the stroller and lets out a primal scream I'd wager to bet she hadn't done since that sweet baby was first born (that is a sound that cannot be replicated). The bear shrugs its enormous shoulders and saunters off.
You don't need to be a mother, or a parent for that matter, to feel the full effect of that moment. While on a cerebral level insecurity can make you question your motherhood badge, the reality is that the very fibres of your being change the day your child is brought into the world. For better and for worse, Kate is now a Mama Bear.