If there was any question of whether or not Jill Webber (as played by author and series creator Jill Kargman) of Bravo’s new scripted series, “Odd Mom Out” is meant to be Jewish, the “Chai [in Hebrew] Maintenance” t-shirt she wears in the first episode, and her reference to a ketubah in the second episode (both of which premiered this past Monday), should set any lingering doubts to rest.
Like the recently published book, “Primates of Park Avenue,” “Odd Mom Out” takes place among the wives and mothers of the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City—the ladies who lunch, throw and attend each other’s charity events, and, most importantly, battle to get their offspring into the best schools money can buy.
Within days of its release, “Primates of Park Avenue” was revealed to be mostly made up. (You mean the “Wife Bonus” isn’t really a thing? As with all retractions they regularly print, the NY Times is shocked—shocked!—to learn they were hoodwinked yet again! Sorry, no refunds on issues already sold.)
“Odd Mom Out” is not claiming to be non-fiction, which is why it does not deserve to be judged by the same standards. (Even if they totally got key details of applying your kids to NYC kindergarten wrong—and I should know, I wrote the book on it. Want the inside scoop on how it really works? Click here.)
But, you know what? The above really doesn’t matter. It’s a sitcom, and the most important question is: Is it funny?
Yes, it mostly is.
Will I watch it again?
Would I recommend it to others?
Yes–but with one caveat.
The little mistakes about kindergarten admissions didn’t bother me. Here is what bothered me: the portrayal of every woman who isn’t Jill (save her college friend, who pointedly isn’t a mom and doesn’t live on the Upper East Side). Every woman who isn’t Jill is shown to be fashion-obsessed, youth-obsessed, status-obsessed, obnoxiously gluten-free, shallow, indifferent to her kids (save where she can brag where they go to school) and, basically, a real bitch. The Mom-bots, Jill calls them.
Do we really need this umpteenth salvo in the Mommy Wars?
I not only applied my kids to private school in NYC, I got them into private school in NYC. In fact, my oldest son attended, and my middle child still attends, the same school Kargman’s brother went to (who, for the record, is married to Drew Barrymore). So I am very, very familiar with the milieu she writes about.
And guess what? The moms there are totally regular people! (Shocking, I know.) Some are mean and some are nice. Some are obsessed with their kids and some are hands-off. Some are into fashion and some aren’t. Some work and some don’t. Some are on diets and some aren’t. Some are not even that rich!
You know what else? They’re exactly like the moms in my daughter’s Jewish Day School on the Upper West Side. And like the ones in my son’s public high school downtown. They’re all people. Not a Mom-bot in sight.
I understand farce. I understand exaggeration and satire. “Odd Mom Out” is obviously shooting for that. I just wish they’d chosen a less easy target. Or, if it had to be the Upper East Side, I wish they’d actually dug beneath the surface to expose the humanity of all moms, and the privilege of yes, even poor Jill, who doesn’t have household staff or a driver.
I think the show made a stab in that direction. When Jill laments, “At least when I was growing up, there was some shame to being rich,” her doctor friend reminds, “You do realize you’re rich, too.”
Confession: We’re the financial aid family at private school. Still, compared to the rest of the world, we are so damn, ridiculously, stinking rich! I remind my kids of that whenever possible. I want them to feel blessed and grateful (primarily to the moms who organize all those charity functions that make it possible for my kids to attend school and participate in extracurricular activities). I won’t stand for them feeling jealous and entitled.
“Odd Mom Out” should give it a try. (“Maybe in the normal universe where normal people live,” Jill whines in response to being reminded of her own wealth. “But between Lexington and 5th Avenue, I’m a charity case.”) It might help her see other moms as fellow human beings. Not bots.
Watch the teaser for “Odd Mom Out” below: