Film & Television

Bravo’s ‘Odd Mom Out’: Poking Fun at the Parenting of the Rich and Famous

oddmomout

I’m a woman who likes to wear black in a town filled with Lilly Pulitzer sundresses. When I heard about the new Bravo series Odd Mom Out, I knew I had to try it.

Bravo, launched as a cable network in 1980, originally focused on the performing arts, as well as international, classic and independent films. Early in my marketing career, I worked for one of the larger cable companies; Bravo was the channel we promoted when we were trying a demographic we called “TV snobs.” Some 20-odd years later, having changed hands a number of times, Bravo was acquired by NBC and its format transitioned from art to pop culture and reality. Today, the network is probably best known for such sensationalized television as Top Chef, Million Dollar Listings, and its most successful franchise: The Real Housewives.

Although it’s an original scripted comedy (only the second one Bravo has tackled), Odd Mom Out may have felt like a natural extension. After all, with so many seasons of well-to-do women behaving badly (in New York and elsewhere), Bravo seems the right place for a show that promises to poke fun at the picture-perfect parenting of New York City’s Upper East Side mothers.

The show’s creator, lead writer and star is Jill Kargman, the author of several books, including Momzillas, on which Odd Mom Out seems loosely based. Her character on Bravo’s sit-com, Jill Weber (not to be confused with her in-laws, the newly titled Von Webers) appears to be a blend of the book’s heroine Hannah Allen and the author herself. Interestingly, while Kargman appears to relish skewering her immaculately coiffed neighbors, she herself is a product of the same geography and posh private schools. Her father was the president of Chanel and her mother (whose nickname coincidentally happens to be Coco) is a celebrated fundraiser. To her chagrin, Kargman has been referred to in the media as a “socialite” and “fashionista.” She feels this distracts from her work uncovering the underbelly of the Upper East Side matron.

Methinks she may protest too much.

Nevertheless, she is a wry observer and her writing is crisp and contemporary fun. To her credit, she does recognize that she’s criticizing privilege from a rather privileged place. Early on in the series, Jill’s best friend (an actual working woman and one of Odd Mom’s most likeable characters) points out that the Webers aren’t exactly poor. Jill protests that when other moms visit her “walk-up,” they treat her like she lives in a cardboard box. At that very moment, the two women happen to pass a homeless person in — you guessed it — a cardboard box. “Sorry,” she apologizes earnestly.

Kargman proves herself to be an equal opportunity satirist. In another episode, Jill brings her daughter to a birthday party in Brooklyn. At first, she’s seduced by what appears to be a more natural approach to life and home and parenting. But she soon realizes that the Brooklyn moms are every bit as snobbish as their Manhattan counterparts. After being scolded for complimenting her friend’s child (“We only praise effort, not accomplishment”), and helping her own child spell quinoa (“You have to let them sound it out”), and finally being served a refreshing drink that includes human placenta, Jill retreats to the East Side, where she and her daughter partake in an impromptu musical number with welcoming doormen and sane passers-by.

If Kargman has a feel for New York City’s flora and fauna, it’s well matched by her two executive producers and co-writers. Julie Rottenberg and Elisa Zuritsky come from HBO’s Sex and the City. Best friends since childhood, the two definitely add spice to the show’s dialogue. Like Kargman, they draw from their own lives as women and mothers living in New York. Bravo’s website offers quick behind-the-scenes videos correlated to each Odd Mom Out episode, and it’s interesting to listen to the three writers discuss their inspiration and process.

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