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TV Review: Nanny 911 (3-24-2006)

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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.

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  • ymmcalot

    i just heard that there was a news report on CNN last night due to all the negative treatment to this family since the show broadcasted. the nanny 911 message boards have become a war zone over this family including the actual parents and some of their friends and family members. any follow up from you?

  • http://www.scottcsmith.net Scott C. Smith

    I may check out the message boards. One thing I probably should have mentioned is my review is that the episode may have been crafted in a way to make the mother look bad — after all, the Fox crews are there filming for several days, and they have to distill that footage down to 44-minutes of material, and obviously Fox is going to use the worst of it for the show. I’m sure there were plenty of moments where the kids behaved well and the mother did a good job in mothering. That’s reality TV for you. You have to make it sensational, otherwise people will not watch.

  • http://www.scottcsmith.net Scott C. Smith

    I checked out the “Nanny 9/11″ message boards. Lots of complaints from the Longairc family of how they were treated/”misrepresented” on the show. To that, I have no sympathy. No one should ever appear on a reality show. If you do make the choice, you open yourself up to public humiliation at the hands of the producers of the reality show. And there’s nothing you can do about it, since you sign that away in the Nanny 9/11 family application. People should read these documents carefully before applying for any reality show.

  • Mirror-Mirror

    I just saw this episode (for the first time) in rerun last night. The mother did look bad. Maybe because she is bad. By “bad” I mean passive and despondent. All she did was sat around eating (just about every shot), and barked commands at the kids. I think she might be clinically depressed. She is a pretty woman who is probably miserable about her weight, so she eats. It’s a vicious cycle. The stepdad, Adam, is actually pretty hot and seems to be fighting a losing battle. He does try, or it was made to look that way, to be involved with the kids. But his efforts are thwarted by the emotional over-eating mother. Before I start getting death threats, let me say that I too was that woman. I gained 80 pounds over 3 pregnancies and was literally paralyzed with depression. My hubby is a fireman and in excellent physical condition. (He was recently asked to pose for one of those beefcake calendars for charity.)
    Anyway, he would work 4, 24 hour shifts and come home to a disaster area of a house and 3 unruly kids, thanks to me.
    Exhausted, he would straighten up the place, play with the kids, check homework, pack lunches, and then pass out. A close friend of mine warned me that I could lose this man if I didn’t snap the hell out of it. She said he is an incredibly handsome and sweet man, and if I didn’t appreciate him, there were hundreds of bitches out there who would. THANK GOD she had the guts to give me that raw truth. I came to my senses, lost 93 pounds through diet/exercise (took a full year), and got back down to the weight I was when we first started dating. Once I started moving again, the weight started coming off and I had more and more energy. I kept the house clean, started taking the kids on little outings which improved their social skills and grades in school. So this mom on Nanny 911 needs the same kick in the ass I got. She is a beautiful woman, almost exotic looking. She has a totally hot husband (who had to see something in her when they first met to want him to marry a woman with 3 kids), and three beautiful, albeit unruly due to lack of attention, children. She refused to accept the advice that nanny lady was giving her and seemed to be in complete denial (all she had to do was watch the dailies) over her passive parenting skills. Whatever that man once saw in her is gone at the moment, so, like me, she needs to pull herself up, maybe get prescribed an anti-depressant, and start working on herself first. The rest will follow.

  • Derek

    Ican’tbelieve that fat mom michelle. Does that woman believe that she is actually a mother? She has absolutely no idea on how to raise, treat and even act her own age to her childeren. She acts like her own 3year old that uses the “F” word. And the mom shruggs it off like it never even happened. What a dumbass. That nanny that helped this family should get the nanny of the year award and probably a 50 thousand dollar raise! The only one in the house with a sain mind is the husband. That guy is the person that holds the family together and he shouldn’t even be with that fat heffer of a wife michelle. She’s the worst mother i’ve ever seen on t.v. Get off your ass and put down the cupcake woman. Get a life!

  • Derek

    Here’s a few words that i’ve thrown together for the mom Michelle of that family::::: FAT,DENIAL,SLOW,ALWAYS ON THE COUCH,ALWAYS EATING,NOT CARING,IDIOTIC. Get a life michelle, you need to become a real parent and get off your ass!!!!!!!

  • brit

    yeah, they’re my relatives. i’m relieved there is at least one person in the world who realizes they produce an episode not based on real life, but on the footage and what sort of drama they can put together to get people watch. in reality, michelle works her butt off and does her best to take care of the children. instead, they decided to give you a bad guy (michelle) and a good guy to root for (adam) by showing clips of her eating over and over. if they had filmed adam eat for 3 days and spliced them together in an hour long episode, you’d think all he did was eat, too.

  • Jessica

    It really does not matter how else she behaves off camera, the attitude I saw her potray in the episode was enough to convince me as to how dislikeable she is. Nothing to do with the eating, but more to do with her unbelievable attitude. I mean COME ON, at least other people have the ability to look at themselves and change for the better. This woman? Lying to others and lying to herself. I pretty much came to the conclusion that she was mentally damaged.

  • Reen

    I thought this episode was odd. The house lacked personal items and the walls were freshly painted. The curtains were all new. The house from the outside appeared vacant. The show was taped in very few rooms. The nanny didn’t seem to follow her normal routines.