Dads raising kids – what a concept. We shall put them on TV, stat! said the network exec who uncovered this rare species. I will not be surprised if a significant chunk of the massive Duck Dynasty viewing audience sticks around for an extra half hour of feel-good scripted reality fare each week with Modern Dads. The series follows four stay-at-home fathers in Austin, Texas who like their offspring but love checking their fantasy leagues on their phones instead of watching their kids at the park. Sure, it’s a cliché, but I know zero people who cannot either relate to this scenario directly or get an eye-rolly chuckle out of it. It’s not rocket science. It’s just a princess party. A lot of people are into those too!
Highlights of the Modern Dads premiere included a 6-year-old named Joopsy, the promise of “baby wrestling” later in the season, and men who are genuinely comfortable taking a backseat in stereotypical “machoism” to their very attractive, mucho-money-making wives. On the downside, there’s the general awfulness of swingin’ bachelor Stone and a bizarrely shoehorned-in plot in which he’s peer-pressured into having a vasectomy, then decides against it after meeting a woman (who was clearly an actress) at the supermarket counter. The show’s not as hokey as NBC’s failed Guys With Kids, but it does feel almost like a badly scripted documentary of Guys With Kids in production.
Let’s meet the dads!
NATHAN, the New Dad, seems okay. Laid-back, kind of Seth Rogen-y, seems super chill about having “married up.” My favorite scene of the episode was devoted to Nathan’s anxiety that his 1-year-old son, Cormac, would wake up if he slowed down his car to pick up fellow reality TV subject Sean. The baby did end up waking up. I think it might have been ALL THE YELLING.
RICK, the Veteran Dad, is a slightly less gay version of Cam on Modern Family, but just as jovial. He specializes in the cheerful announcements of terrible things, like that his 1-year-old twin daughters “have the mental capacity of hamsters,” or that “The kids have done to my sex life what Godzilla did to Tokyo!” Plus this: “Sometimes I’ll eat leftovers when I know they’ve gone bad. There are days when I literally don’t have my sh*t together.” Oh, yum, thank you for that.
SEAN, the Step Dad – It’s weird; this guy talks as if he and tech startup CEO girlfriend Rachel are married, and raves about the tax benefits of being married. But when he announces to the cameras that he thinks he and Rachel will be married any minute, she looks away and trails off, “I don’t know about any minute….” Let’s just be up front about this: Is Sean these kids’ new dad or Rachel’s unpaid nanny? Looks like we’ll find out later in the season when Sean proposes.
STONE, the Single Dad, is a total terror who practically yells into the camera the aggressive lines written out for him. The aforementioned vasectomy candidate is into the recreation of being with a woman, but procreation, no. Stone is DONE with alimonies, school fees, and paying for breast implants. (Idiot!!?!) He’s gonna sleep on whether or not to have that procedure, because “taking a causal attitude on my genitals is kinda how I ended up here in the first place.” Oh right, and he has a bratty 5-year-old named Danica, whom a crafty producer instructed to cut a tadpole out of construction paper as her dad was consulting with his urologist.
He’s so awful! So much hair gel! Thankfully Rick has him pegged: “Women are like a cat with a laser pointer with Stone. Then when they realize there’s nothing there… they still like him.”
“Raising a 5-year-old is a lot like dating,” says Stone. “The puppy dog eyes… the mixed messages… and I pay for everything.” Ugggggghhhhhhh.
I’m all for thrusting stay-at-home dads into the spotlight instead of the usual spoiled-children-monster-adults we usually see on TV. If Modern Dads toned down the scripted shlock and the creepy Stone “pollination” plot, the show could be so much more endearing. Boring, maybe, but at least more realistic. What do you all think? Did the guys make that princess party their BITCH, as they so triumphantly declared?