After watching the premiere of Lifetime’s newest reality show Pretty Wicked Moms, I’m left asking myself, “How can something so wrong feel so right?” As a woman, I recognize the proliferation of reality television shows that perpetuate negative images of both older and younger women: The Real Housewives franchise, Basketball Wives, Married to Medicine, The Real World (any season for the past 15 years), The Bad Girls Club, Big Rich Atlanta and Jerseylicious to name a few. And instead of turning my back and refusing to play a role in the continuing degradation of my own gender, I can’t resist watching the cattiness and the gossiping, backstabbing, hair pulling, name calling and all around unladylike behavior.
There isn’t anything particularly special about Pretty Wicked Moms. It’s a group of women thrown together, who, as a whole, aren’t really friends. They form a “Queen Bees and Wannabees” dynamic. Only in this circumstance, almost all of the women are mothers. There is one notable exception; Nicole N. who is known as “The Doggy Mom.” She focuses all of her love and affection on her Shih-Tzu named Sommer. There is boutique owner Emily “The Queen Bee,” Miranda “The Southern Bell,” Nicole B. “The Alpha Mom,” Meredith “The Newbie” and Marci “The Divorcee.” By labeling them, there’s no need to spend time actually getting to know what each woman is really like outside of the contrived situations that bring them together each episode.
If these women are supposed to be examples of modern-day moms, I weep for the future youth of America. Emily contradicts herself on whether her business is more important than her family on several occasions. Since she chooses to employ a full-time nanny as opposed to a manager for her store, her first priority is fairly obvious; although not to her. She’d rather “slit her throat” than have a play date, and Emily considers sleeping with her two-year-old daughter Amzie their “quality time.” She’s booted her poor husband Pete from the bedroom altogether.
Emily’s BFF is Nicole N., and the two look and act more identical than the Olsen twins did during their Full House years. They appear willing to expand their clique to include stay-at-home, plain Jane Meredith who doesn’t currently meet their high standards regarding beauty and fashion. Meredith and Emily share a hairstylist, a coincidence that doesn’t thrill Emily, “Looking at Meredith’s hair versus my hair, I was shocked that we had the same stylist.”
Meredith has “the most amazing, fantastic” husband and a “perfect” daughter named Addison. She is smitten with the other women. In fact, her admiration for them borders on obsessive, “These women are gorgeous. I want their teeth; I want their clothes; I want their makeup stylists; I want the whole package!” Meredith is thrilled when Nicole N. and Emily suggest a makeover party. While most women would catch the insulting nature of the gesture, Meredith glows in the radiance of Emily’s recognition and attention. All mean girls need a minion, and it looks as if Meredith is going to be the third Heather.
Emily’s arch rival is Miranda who is completely immersed in raising her son, Ledger. She has him scheduled down to each individual slurp he takes from his sippy cup. Anyone want to wager how likely it is that Ledger’s over-protective, hovercraft of a mommy is going to ruin her perfect son’s chance at ever having a normal relationship with a woman? Don’t even get me started on the fact that she’s also a stage mom who dresses the boy in long pants, a hat and a bow tie in 106 degree weather. It could be worse; Miranda could outfit him in ensembles only seen on royal offspring in the 19th century like celebrity stylist/fashion designer Rachel Zoe does to her son.
Miranda is friends with working mom Nicole B. who has a daughter named McKinley. In addition to working out five days a week to get her body back into pre-baby condition, Miranda makes sure that her family only eats homemade and unprocessed foods. Nicole B. and Emily became acquainted through their husbands, but unlike Emily and Miranda’s “friendship” which is “forced,” they appear to be more genuinely cordial.
Also in the mix is Marci, single mother of three, who met Emily at the opening of her boutique Swank. Marci attended the event with her hairdresser who just happens to be Emily’s as well. Atlanta, the backdrop for this and so many shows like it lately, seems like a very, very small city.
The women come together for two events in the premiere: Emily’s “Moms’ Night Out” event at her boutique and McKinley’s first birthday party. Emily’s event is supposed to be a way to generate income but the women are more interested in gabbing than spending. There is a lot of air kissing through clenched teeth. Marci thinks Nicole B. is “uppity and arrogant,” Miranda says that everyone in Atlanta calls Swank - Skank and states that she would rather spend her money feeding starving kids in Africa. Nicole N.’s precious pooch attacks Miranda’s ankles causing a mini melodrama.
McKinley’s birthday party most of the claws remain retracted. This is probably because the blistering heat makes them all too lethargic to argue. Nicole B.’s attempt to impress her guests falls flat. It is interesting that the two bottled blondes, one with fake breasts (Emily), comment on how fake Miranda is without any irony.
I try to derive some comfort in the fact that these shows are more non-scripted than reality. I mean, what woman sleeps in an entirely white bed with a toddler, wearing full makeup and long dangling earrings? It just doesn’t happen. These women are cut and pasted like living paper dolls. I don’t want to believe such over-the-top stereotypes actually walk amongst the rest of us. If I can convince myself that shows like Pretty Wicked Moms are just a guilty pleasure, then I don’t have to think about how these women are denigrating themselves for fame and how I am only too eager to watch.