Friday, October 25, 2013

My Full Review of One Bad Mother

I listen to most, if not all, of the Maximum Fun podcasts. They take up a lot of my time, so I consider them important. I'm really in love with all of them, but one of them sometimes leaves me a little uncomfortable. Hopefully I can stress my woes here.

One Bad Mother is a podcast hosted by Biz Ellis and Theresa Thorn. Both hosts are mothers, and at the time of this writing they're both pregnant, but are close to their due dates. The show, as anyone could imagine, is about being a mom. I'm not a mother, I'm not even a parent and I'm not even married. The show adds a lot of insight into parenthood, but the foci are the trials and tribulations of motherhood and the circumstances thereof. That may sound redundant, but it's not; Biz and Theresa attack subjects like mom guilt and the 'real' process of being pregnant.

Perhaps my main reason for listening it to help me understand my mom. While Biz and Theresa aren't as old as my mom, being mothers of a four- and two-year-old respectively, I have already gone through a series of epiphanies about my childhood and my mother. It's actually amazing. Each show brings new light to subjects I had never thought of, and brings new sides to arguments I've heard often. The mothers often discuss the difference between what parents are told and what parenting is like. Raising a child isn't easy, and everyone does it differently, but the mothers believe that all parents are good, and no parent has it easy. Specifically moms, almost to the point of harassment on fathers, but it's a show about mothers (and a point they address regularly).

My only point of contention is the general negative tone of the show. Their mantra is "Stop feeling like shit for being a mom," but the show acts as a catalyst and enabler for negativity. The podcast is labeled as a comedy podcast about parenting, so it's easy to see why there is negativity on the show (because bad things are funny and laughing at yourself is good) but it seems like the negativity never ends. This is a point discussed often on the show in a myriad of topics.; apologizing for being a parent, feeling guilty for no reason, questioning yourself, and judging others

The comedy of the show lays in the ladies, but also in two of the shows segments as well: Genius and Fails, and Mom Rants. These parts of the show are, I think, successful. They're funny, bring up new talking points, and introduce new arguments. The segments can be overwhelmingly negative, but have managed to be relatively fresh each week and give space for support. While these segments are based around negativity, they also seem to be the least negative part of the show.

My issues lay with the moms themselves, most of the time. Each mom on the show has the potential to be crazy negative, layering judgement, insults, and disrespect in with uncontrolled sarcasm. This is the humor I don't enjoy. There is often exercise in self loathing, which is often discussed on the show, but exists despite its shunning. The mantra in and of itself is very negative.

I know this is very deconstructive, but I think the point is valid. "Stop feeling like shit for being a mom." The words themselves point nothing but negativity toward moms. Stop is a negative word, because it implies loss of progress. Even though the progress is a negative progression, it's not just good enough to stop it. Shit is a very heavy word in this sentence. Biz's manner and tone with this one word forms the whole statement. To the ear, it's the only word in the sentence. After hearing it, the listener is left with just that one word and its tone. These words link to mom. Mom, in this case, is a little open ended and distant. This is probably the only good thing about this mantra. Mom can be anyone in this case, because mom is a person and not a state of being. It isn't "stop feeling like shit for having mothered a child" which would be definite.

Having stated my criticism, I still feel like One Bad Mother is a much needed podcast that's funny and informative. While the bad mothers state their podcast isn't about parenting advise, it does feel like advice for parents as people. The advice eliminates how children should be reared, because the show attempts an unbiased, judgement free view of all parents. It is a very good show and I'm not about to stop listening (despite how I'm not a mom, nor will I ever be [because I am a man.]) I think everyone should give it a listen and I recommend it to as many people as I can.

EDIT: I made my criticism with no insight of how to proceed. If I could make a suggestion, it would be to take the opposite route with the current mantra: Start feeling good for being a mom. I think this fixes everything I think is wrong, but I'm open to being wrong about everything as well.

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