I’ve previously written about Nanny 911 in a general way, focusing on the series as a whole. Today I’m writing about a specific episode (aired on March 24, 2006), which was completely fascinating and a little different than other episodes in the series. This episode provides enough material to continually raise the question, “Why does this family want America to know how horrible the parents are?” Or, when you get right down to it, why would the parents want to know how horrible they are? Is a brief moment of fame worth the public humiliation? I don’t understand it at all.
We meet the Longairc family: husband and stepfather Adam; wife and mother Michelle; and her three children: son Sean, eight; five-year-old son Adam, a charming child who bites, screams, and likes to drop the F-bomb. It’s so cute when children swear, isn’t it? And six-year-old daughter Erica, the only child of the three we don’t see acting like they had been raised in the wild by a pack of wolves.
Adam is in the unfortunate position of being a stepfather. Now, before I get complaints that I’m calling stepparents “unfortunate,” I’m only referring to this situation. I know there are plenty of families with stepparents that do not have the issues the Longairc family have, and are thriving. I can relate to Adam as I’m a stepparent. I came into my stepchild’s life when he was nine, and immediately wanted to jump in with my own style of discipline. Big mistake, since his mother had her own style, and our styles were not the same. For several years it created strife until I finally decided that I would not continue in a disciplining role, but rather try to be a positive influence and a mentor. And things got better fast. I know, all experiences vary, but I know there are some of you out there who know what I’m talking about. But I digress.
Back to the Longairc family. We watch stepfather Adam attempt (unsuccessfully) to bring some discipline into the family. The kids are defiant and mom Michelle is not what you’d call a disciplinarian. So Adam has his hands full as he fruitlessly attempts to bring some order out of chaos. Time to bring in Nanny Stella!
If you’ve never seen the show, the format is pretty simple. On the first day, the nanny will observe the family and take notes. At the end of the day, she’ll discuss her observations with the parents. The next day, the nanny brings in a set of family rules, and the rest of the episode (normally) shows us how, by the end of the week, life is ice cream and puppies for the family as the children magically transform into little angels. Not this time! Nope. That’s what made this particular episode so unusual. Sure, Nanny Stella came up with family rules, but throughout the episode, mother Michelle refuses to follow the rules or enforce them. In fact, she even refuses to acknowledge that her children are…difficult, despite saying so at the beginning of the episode.
Poor Stella gives it her best shot, but nothing. Michelle basically wants Stella to leave due to the fact that Stella has questioned Michelle’s parenting skills (or, in her case, lack of parenting skills).
And so it goes in this train wreck of an episode, culminating with five-year-old Adam punching, kicking and spitting in Stella’s face, all while his mother sits back and enjoys the show. You know she wants the tyke to assault the woman who dared to question her skills as a mother. It’s all very sad, really.
By the end of the week, Nanny Stella hasn’t really accomplished anything, which is unusual for this show, and off she goes, with no emotional departure that is the norm of Nanny 911. We get a sort-of follow up to find out that stepfather Adam is attempting to follow the rules set up by Nanny Stella, and even Michelle acknowledges she’s going to try and follow them. Which seems unlikely. I wonder if we’ll see this couple on Divorce Court?
All said, the Longairc family episode made for interesting television.