Workin’ Moms’ Catherine Reitman On Creating a Judgement Free Zone

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CBC
CBC

The women at the core of Workin’ Moms are out to prove they really can have it all. CBC’s newest original comedy, premiering Tuesday, January 10 at 9:30 p.m., will follow the lives of four women attempting to juggle love, careers and parenthood. Through good times and bad, postpartum depression and unplanned pregnancies, the women will support, challenge and try not to judge one another.

Kate, played by creator and star Catherine Reitman, has home/life decisions to make, while her closest friend Anne (Dani Kind), a psychiatrist, faces a massive family challenge of her own. They are joined by Frankie (Juno Rinaldi), an unpredictable woman who is struggling with instability and former sorority girl Jenny (Jessalyn Wanlim) who faces a reckless awakening.

As mother to two young boys, Reitman brought much of her own personal experiences to the show. After working as an actress on shows such as Blackish and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, she developed the 13 episode Workin’ Moms with her husband Philip Sternberg and will direct two episodes this season. She recently spoke exclusively with The TV Junkies about the genesis of the show, its universal appeal and her own personal experience with a Mommy and Me group that rivals the one portrayed on the series.

 

The TV Junkies: You have two young boys so was the idea for the show just naturally born out of that experience? One of those need to laugh or else you’ll cry deals?

Catherine Reitman: I think we were having a cry and had to laugh. I went back to work six weeks after my first son and I was suffering from some postpartum depression and my Mommy and Me group didn’t really talk about it. I was at work and these guys were teasing me and making fun of me–I was missing my first Mothers’ Day actually–I was laughing along and then I broke. When I got back to the hotel room I called my husband and we realized there’s a story to be told here. A show like this needs to exist because I can’t be the only one feeling this.

So I started writing, it was just random scenes and we started shooting to where we put together a 12 minute sizzle to establish the tone. I was really worried about tone because this script in the wrong hands could be something very broad or something that’s overly dramatic. There’s that fine line of wanting to create something that feels real and authentic, but has earth and levity. We shot it and the CBC, which has a ton of working mothers, was on board and here we are 13 episodes in.

TTVJ: I felt as though if I hadn’t been through what the characters were going through I certainly have friends that had. It’s refreshing to see the unglamourous sides as well to motherhood.

CR: We also look at it as the unprecious view of parenting. Because it’s the unprecious view that’s relatable to parents and non-parents alike. It helps that we’re not trying to make everything perfect.

TTVJ: Obviously women are going to be drawn to the show, so can you elaborate on how you make it appealing to men and non-parents?

CR: I think it’s easy to get caught up in the outside in viewpoint when making television or movies. I’ve done that in the past and I feel like it makes the material blander and thins it out. So instead of worrying about who it will appeal to, I had to make sure I was telling specific story that was honest to me.

We had a writers’ room of five women and all of these stories are based off of something that happened either to me or someone in that room. I don’t think this is necessarily strictly a woman’s show. There’s a genderless to the comedy that I think will appeal to both parties. It’s about the identity crisis we experience as we get older, what’s expected of us and the judgement that comes our way when we make selfish decisions. I think that’s universal.

CBC
CBC

TTVJ: As you mentioned, your writers’ room was all women and two out of three directors were female. How can we make that magic happen across the industry?

CR: It’s something I’m very passionate about and I am only responsible for my ship. I hired an all female writers room, the majority of our directors were female, for the first time in network history an all female camera crew, a female DP and entirely female hair and makeup department, and I will say I have few regrets about it.

Never was there a moment of fear about anybody’s abilities and in fact, I’ve never been on a crew and cast that felt so calm and collected. It was a well-oiled machine and there was great energy. I didn’t have a single crew member that didn’t say ‘this was one of the better crews I’ve ever been on,’ and it was predominately women. I can only say that I wish things would change and all I can do is be present and responsible for my ship. It was mostly female and an extraordinary experience I plan on doing again.

TTVJ: Some of my favorite scenes are at the Mommy and Me group. Why was it important for you guys to have that group as a regular focus for the show?

CR: Anyone who is a woman can probably attest to the fact that there’s a lot of judgement out there. With or without kids you’re getting judgement for how you present on social media, how you are in the office, how you are at home, as a pet owner, as a parent and something the Mommy and Me seems to be a breeding ground for is judgement.

It’s something I experienced in my own Mommy and Me group, when I did admit in one of my first weeks there that I had postpartum depression and was met by silence. The Mommy and Me instructor then changed the topic to baby yoga. It is brutal and I think we have to be able to have more honest discussions in these groups. If the show can promote such discussions then I feel like I did a good job.

I do think there’s something really funny though–look it’s painful as shit, I’ve witnessed that–but there is something funny about all these blogs out there. We’re seeing all these perfect representations of motherhood that are just unrealistic and frankly, dangerous. It promotes divisiveness as opposed to us all coming together and commiserating and laughing over how difficult this all is.

 

Are you excited for Workin’ Moms? Sound off in the comments below!

Workin’ Moms airs Tuesdays at 9:30 pm on CBC.

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