by Meredith O'Brien (Moms in Pop Culture & Politics)
Clear your DVRs and TiVos. It's time for new and returning fall TV shows, and if you're in between babysitters, really, TV's a pretty cheap date.
And while it's true that shows premiere at all different times of the year now -- with small clusters beginning new seasons in the winter and spring -- autumn boasts the largest crop of 'em. Here's a group of shows which feature parents and families that I'll be watching and later writing about for Mommy Tracked.
Desperate Housewives, Sept. 26, 9 p.m., ABC
I used to love the Housewives, was eager to peek in on haps at the Lane. I was so enamored of its first season and its sharp suburban satire. Then it got sloppy, slack and silly. There've been several times when I was about to give up on it altogether. Last season there were moments of lunacy (hated the serial killer and the Angie-on-the-run arcs), but there were good parts too, like Lynette Scavo's pregnancy discrimination story and storylines where Gaby had to deal with parenting challenges, which is why I haven't completely given up on the show. Yet.
This season, the show's seventh, features the addition of Vanessa Williams as Lynette's former college "frenemy." We'll see.
Brothers & Sisters, Sept. 26, 10 p.m., ABC
God, did this past season end in a shocking fashion what with Robert McCallister appearing to have been mortally wounded in a horrific multiple car accident, Holly Harper wounded in the same accident and Saul Holden learning he had AIDS. Robert's wife Kitty, the mom of a toddler, at the end of the season appeared to have resurged nicely from her cancer treatment and decided to run for office. This season picks up a year after the car accident, when Kitty's about ready to maybe consider rejoining the dating scene. Hopefully the writers will not have forgotten that Kitty has a son - her having a child was a huge part of her storyline for so long -- and show us more of Kitty the single mom trying to balance her work and her home life.
House, Sept. 20, 8 p.m., Fox
Dr. Greg House enters the world of kiddie care as House starts its seventh season. Now that House has hooked up with Dr. Lisa Cuddy "and she also has a kid . . . [the show] will explore the reality of what that means and how willingly Cuddy is at first to share [her daughter] Rachel and expose her child to the relationship," the show's executive producer told Entertainment Weekly. I'd love to see the curmudgeonly House attempt to play Elmo or Dora the Explorer with this kid. That'd make for a great scene.
Parenthood, Sept. 14, 10 p.m., NBC
Parenthood was one of those shows that premiered in the spring, ran a baker's dozen of episodes, then got picked up for a full season which starts this fall. I thought the show's first season grew stronger as the season progressed, gaining emotional punch with a story arc about high school harassment as it overcame over some initial awkwardness.
According to promo videos from NBC, the sophomore season will feature "the good, the bad and the ugly" of childrearing, said Peter Krause (Adam Braverman), where he and his TV wife will teach their teenage daughter how to drive and where his single mom sister starts working at his shoe company. Adam's other sister Julia, a high achieving career professional whose husband is an at-home dad, also consider having a second child in this second season.
Do you pay attention to how the mom characters are portrayed on your favorite TV shows? Loathe the so-called "mommy wars" on which the news media love to focus? Each week, Meredith O'Brien's Moms in Pop Culture & Politics column provides a reality check on how TV shows, movies, and the media depict moms. A longtime journalist and mother of three, Meredith O'Brien formerly taught journalism at the University of Massachusetts, is the author of A Suburban Mom: Notes from the Asylum and writes the Picket Fence Post blog for GateHouse Media. Follow Meredith on Twitter: @MeredithOBrien.