Photo: ‘Workin’ Moms’
Adapt or Die: A Lesson in Keeping a Concept Evolving
An often overused expression, but in the context of the hit comedy ‘Workin’ Moms’ feels perfectly apt. The series was created by and stars Catherine Reitman, daughter of the legendary late director Ivan Reitman, as Kate Foster who when we meet her in Season One is a new mom struggling to keep a hold of her booming but demanding career working in Public Relations. The series takes off from there and the next four seasons follow Kate as she continues to keep a grip on her family life and friendships while not giving up who she is at heart.
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As is implied by the title, Kate and her close circle of friends, some of them first-time mothers and some more experienced in the field, are all trying to find a way to balance being “working” moms. Keeping a grip on their careers while also being the best and most involved mothers they can proves to be much more complicated than anticipated. A super sincere and original idea when it debuted, the show has done an incredible job of remaining fresh by reinventing itself throughout its run, fully on display in Season 6, now streaming on Netflix. Each season of the show produces a whole new set of realistic situations and problems for Kate and the other moms to navigate.
Truly the most impressive thing about ‘Working Moms’ is this ability to adapt and grow the story. The original premise made for a hilarious first two seasons, but the show aspires to be about much more than just comedy. Comedy at its best brings people together in the shared experience of a laugh, and in almost a calculated maneuver, Reitman and her fellow writers were able to draw in a very loyal and dedicated audience to the complex but incredibly realistic characters they had created. A show that started off as a fun and silly look at what it looks like to try to be a mother today while balancing a career, has evolved into a very delicate portrayal of these women’s lives that feels incredibly moving and eye-opening. The show is still on its surface a comedy and does not shy away from the jokes, but from tackling the Pandemic, to abortion, to climate change and every possible style of complicated romantic relationships the show does not back down from what it covers.
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Season 6 is no different with each of our beloved characters again facing their newest life changing challenges. In the forms of raising a child your spouse had unbeknownst to them from a previous relationship, to possibly losing your medical license from prescription pill use, the show has once again taken a very deep but welcome departure from where it first was. This ability to change paths and storylines while remaining true to the heart of the characters is no small task and is certainly why the show should be held up as one of the crown jewel of the Netflix empire, albeit actually airing in Canada on the CBC.
Propping Each Other Up, an Example of How We Should All Be
The core of ‘Workin Moms’, like all well-written material, comes in the form of its powerful characters. Kate is undoubtedly at the epicenter of the series, but it is the supporting cast of her friends that really help make the show sing. Anne, played by Dani Kind, is an incredible force in the show, often finding herself in the crux of the most difficult of trying situations. She and Kate have a powerful best friendship that stands as a testament to how we should support each other when it is far too easy to be angry or want to take people down. Their friendship is shown on screen as all of our friendships, real. Yes, we love our best friends, but we are also often jealous or angry with them, and Kate and Anne are no different. Reitman and the writers take this relationship well beneath the surface and show what a real friendship is like.
Kind is masterful in her role as Anne and genuinely helps to lift the show to a place that it has ascended to. She is a tremendous actress, wholly capable of bringing the complexities of what Anne is going through, while also never straying too far from needing to keep her “mom game face” on for her kids. She plays the part with such biting precision, is whip-smart and is able to balance the comedy and drama of the series perfectly. Making it feel like we would all be happy to have Anne as a mother, spouse, or great friend. She bears a heavy burden from both Kate and her own family constantly needing her and pulling her in different directions. Season 6 finds an even newer, more empowered Anne who is taking back her power to carve out her own niche.
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‘Workin’ Moms’ – Representation as a Function of Storytelling
What Catherine Reitman has done such a solid job of in writing the show is crafting the show in a way that feels authentic to her experiences as a working wife and mother. Too often shows, especially these days, feel like they either blatantly ignore matters of representation when it comes to storytelling, or often worse they are specifically conceived and derived with the express purpose of wanting to be more inclusive without strong content and good characters behind them. For many incredibly problematic reasons, this ends up not working and falling utterly flat.
‘Workin Moms’ stands out as completely different from these derivative and weaker shows because there is an incredible authenticity to the writing. Reitman and the writing team are at their best when they are pulling from material that feels incredibly realistic and relatable. You never have to second guess or question any of the motives behind certain plot developments because she is aspiring to create a show that is completely real to her. Naturally, some situations need to be created for the purposes of comedy, but the backbone of the show that has allowed it not only to last, but to thrive for 6 strong seasons is this desire, to tell the truth. Seeing these incredibly strong female characters and all they have to deal with is an inspiring look and opportunity to express how talented women are, especially when given the opportunity to tell their own stories.
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The show is able to draw in such a wide audience because it does that rare thing that good shows and movies do by simply being real. Aspiring to tell grounded stories that reflect a version of life we can all either fully relate to or if we are not that close to that specific situation, find and learn to have empathy for someone that might be in it. The show, its staff, and the cast deserve a tremendous amount of credit for creating and running with this concept. The 6th Season is another highlight in what has been an insanely good run for the show, that I for one am very happy found an American streaming home on Netflix. All episodes of the 6th season are streaming now on Netflix.
By Mark Raymond
Cast: Catherine Reitman, Dani Kind, Philip Sternberg, Juno Rinaldi, Sarah McVie | Created by Catherine Reitman | Directed By: Yael Staav, Mars Horodyski, Peter Huang
Click here to read The Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Cinema, TV and Media. An excerpt from the love letter: The Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, “We have the space and time for all your stories, no matter who/what/where you are. Media/Cinema/TV have a responsibility to better the world and The Hollywood Insider will continue to do so. Talent, diversity and authenticity matter in Cinema/TV, media and storytelling. In fact, I reckon that we should announce “talent-diversity-authenticity-storytelling-Cinema-Oscars-Academy-Awards” as synonyms of each other. We show respect to talent and stories regardless of their skin color, race, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, etc., thus allowing authenticity into this system just by something as simple as accepting and showing respect to the human species’ factual diversity. We become greater just by respecting and appreciating talent in all its shapes, sizes, and forms. Award winners, which includes nominees, must be chosen on the greatness of their talent ALONE.
I am sure I am speaking for a multitude of Cinema lovers all over the world when I speak of the following sentiments that this medium of art has blessed me with. Cinema taught me about our world, at times in English and at times through the beautiful one-inch bar of subtitles. I learned from the stories in the global movies that we are all alike across all borders. Remember that one of the best symbols of many great civilizations and their prosperity has been the art they have left behind. This art can be in the form of paintings, sculptures, architecture, writings, inventions, etc. For our modern society, Cinema happens to be one of them. Cinema is more than just a form of entertainment, it is an integral part of society. I love the world uniting, be it for Cinema, TV. media, art, fashion, sport, etc. Please keep this going full speed.”
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Mark Raymond is a writer and screenwriter who believes himself to be the only person desiring to work in film who originated in New York and currently resides in Los Angeles. Mark was inspired to write from a young age and has always desired to connect and uplift others through his work, as those that motivated him did for him. Mark feels very strongly that the world could use a lot more positivity and optimism, and is therefore very aligned to the mission of The Hollywood Insider to not spread hate or gossip, but instead to build each other up and shine a positive light on anyone bold enough to put their heart and soul into a piece of art. In his writing, Mark aims to use his signature wit to highlight the severity of the more serious and pressing issues of our time, to shine a beacon of light through the darkness. A devoted ally to all, he seeks to inspire and use his platform to give a voice to the voiceless and let his readers know that while everything may not be great right now, one day it can and will be.