The mom-centric new series I’m Sorry premiered last night on Tru TV, promising a hilarious and relatable look at modern motherhood. Created by and starring Andrea Savage, the irreverent show documents the daily life of comedy writer, wife, and mom Andrea, who, as the network says, “comically exposes her inner immaturity and neuroses through unexpected life situations.”
Many have anticipated the premiere as a surefire account of the foibles of imperfect parenting. According to Vulture, "Savage proves moms can be immature, too." Bustle calls Savage "unapologetically real" and says "the show isn't just authentic; it's relatable." Savage’s cheeky, self-deprecating style is both funny and endearing, and Tom Everett Scott (Southland), Jason Mantzoukas (Parks and Recreation, The League), and Judy Greer (Arrested Development) fill out a solidly talented cast. Plus, the show is produced by Savage along with Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, and Andy Samberg, so it has a lot going for it.
As a 26-year-old who is cutting her teeth on both marriage and motherhood, a show cataloguing the life of a “real” wife and mom, one who is flawed and sometimes says inappropriate things in front of her children, is intriguing to me. My husband and I met at a college party playing beer pong; I spent Fourth of July weekend playing corn hole with a beer in hand and a baby strapped to my chest. Needless to say, a show about the struggle to be a "good on paper" mom and a mom who's actually living her life is one I’m well-suited to appreciate. Naturally, I gave it a watch.
I'm sorry to say, I'm Sorry was remarkably disappointing.
In a word, the show hit one note; that note was vulgar. It would not be inaccurate to say the entire premiere was an extended joke about anal sex. To give you an idea of the plot, Andrea discovers that a fellow mom is a former porn star, one known particularly for anal sex. Andrea and her husband are shocked. But instead of, say, portraying Andrea’s internal anguish as she struggles to choose between accepting the reformed porn star as a fellow mom friend or protecting her daughter from someone who may be a bad influence, I'm Sorry shows Andrea staring at her butt and making jokes about the physical demands and repercussions of such a career.
I know I am new to motherhood, but I think I can speak for most moms when I say that this episode bears little to no resemblance to real life. It is hard for me to imagine ever being in such a scenario or reacting as casually as Andrea does if I were. It doesn’t help that the humor is relentlessly gross, irreverent, and frankly difficult to watch.
I can't help but shake my head when I see women's comedy these days turning toward vulgarity, as if that's the final frontier women must cross in order to be taken seriously as comedians. I felt similarly about Rough Night, and now having seen I'm Sorry, I can't help but see a trend.
It would seem that crude female humor is no longer relegated to the fringes of comedy à la Sarah Silverman; more and more it's veering into the mainstream. Pitch Perfect 2 started with implied full-frontal female nudity. In the Melissa McCarthy-headlined film Spy, viewers saw an actual photo of a penis. In Trainwreck, Amy Schumer details the removal of a stuck condom to baby-shower attendees. I'm all for taking the relatable situations women experience and turning them into comedic fodder, but how relatable is vulgarity, truly, for most of us? As a trend, it suggests female comics have to buy into male humor to make it in entertainment; worse, it plays into an ethos that largely objectifies women, which doesn't really help women's progress at all.
Beyond the show's vulgarity and absurdity, what makes I’m Sorry especially disappointing is that it has the potential to be so good. So much of everyday life as a mother has comedic value. I’ve been married for a little over a year and a parent for seven weeks, and I think I have enough material to write my own sitcom. Like the time my 3-week-old daughter and I went on our first trip to the grocery store sans dad. I was "wearing" her in one of those Nesting Days infant carrier shirts. I wasn't wearing a shirt underneath because I had been told I didn't need to—let's just say, by the time I checked out, my daughter was having a meltdown and pretty much my entire chest was exposed. Or how about the time I had to breast-feed my infant on a bench in the woods behind a brewery, using my cover-up as a mosquito shield, because I was somehow unfazed by the idea of bringing a 3-week-old to a brewery but still too shy to breast-feed in public. (Hey, I didn’t say I was winning any Mom of the Year awards). My point is that you don’t need to add over-the-top, off-color content in order to make parenthood funny. As long as you are human, life provides ample material on its own.
If the goal was to produce a new comedic and sympathetic take on marital and parenting struggles, so far I’m Sorry misses the mark. With any luck, the show will ease back on the vulgarity and present a more authentic, albeit less shocking, take on modern-day marriage and parenthood. If not, I sure hope future comediennes will get off the crude comedy bandwagon and return to more relatable humor, of which there is infinite source material; that way, we can actually share a good-natured laugh.
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