Mindy's character is not nailing modern motherhood, she's crusading a whole new brand of it. It's called guilt-free mommy-hood and its AWESOME to watch. In her latest season her show depicts a full time working mom who can't be bothered to go to her sons pre-school for anything (that's what nanny's are for), until she realizes her toddler son has a "girlfriend" who happens to be the parent of one of his classmates, a hilarious role played by Julie Bowen. Instead of the episode wrapping up making working moms feel bad for leaving all of the educating to the educators (g-d forbid), we watch a helicopter "perfect" mom (Julie Bowen's character, who would never miss a school function), become unraveled, frazzled, and clearly jealous of the guilt-free career focused life Mindy leads.
Of course Mindy's lack of self reflection and guilt is likely impossible, and even undesirable for mothers or any parent for that matter, but lets be honest, for all of our "Future is Female" and "Girl Power" bravado, our society still makes working moms feel like crap. A mom is allowed to work to support her family, but she's not supposed to enjoy it. In fact, women who work out of the home are patronizingly called "super heroes" because they often have to go to heroic measures to be both a doting, dinner cooking, lunch packing, booboo kissing, butt wiper with no needs of her own, while simultaneously a well dressed, intellectually sharp, emotionless and sexless professional.
Mindy defies this in her lack of guilt, and her huge propensity for self-fulfillment. If she is hungry she eats, if she is bored she calls a friend, if she wants to have sex she does that too. She dresses in loud, attention stealing outfits, farts, and breaks-up with younger men; she shops instead of attending pre-school functions, and she puts herself first all the time.
We all know why this is funny. One reason, and one reason alone; she is a woman. Men are still given the benefit of the doubt for missing school functions, and seen as "just being a dude" when they ask for sex, burp out loud, and forget to take the kids to soccer practice.
1955 anyone? While many shows on TV portray the modern woman as a woman who "has it all," few if any portray a woman who doesn't want "it all," particularly the guilt aspect that so many mothers are supposed to feel for any desires that don't prioritize a well packed minivan and toddler swimming lessons. Mindy resists the mindset that a woman can and should "do it all." She doesn't want to do it all. She wants to take leisurely lunch breaks, solo trips with friends (g-d forbid a mother have a social life away from her family), and feed her kid whatever is convenient to order-in.
If this show was about a single dad, with the exact same plot, not only would it not be funny, it might, sad to say, leave some uncritical viewers with a heaping portion of poignant sentimentality about a single dad burdened with solo child rearing. Instead, we have the 2017 version of I Love Lucy, except not only is Lucy entertaining us with her domestic "mess ups," she's not even trying to impress us. She has no pinterest toddler birthday-cake board, and she certainly isn't winning any soccer mom competitions. She is in fact maintaining multiple friendships, a full-time private practice, and a sense of humor. Any mom would be lying if they haven't occasionally fantasized about this life.
By Rachel Hall, Rachel has a Masters in Cultural Gender Studies, is a Certified Life Coach, and can often be found hiding in her laundry room from her two children. More about her on her website.
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