I’m the first to admit that I watch too much TV. After long days of work and nights of parenting, I find it easy to melt in front of the boob tube and unwind. I’m not suggesting this is a good thing, by the way. If we were to homeschool K-Man, there’s a good chance he’d be more likely to recite the Survivor winners than the presidents, and he’d probably know the ramble of a Top Chef contestant before he'd know the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. Tonight, however, NBC is airing a show that may very well get me off of TV forever (or at least for the summer): The Baby Borrowers.
Here’s the premise: Teenage couples will be given real, human babies, toddlers, preteens and tweeners to take care of (getting a new kid every three days). They will have to complete the daily chores that come with parenting. The purpose of the program is to illustrate how difficult it is to have a kid and be a parent. The show's tagline is "It’s not TV. It’s birth control." The official show website proclaims, "Learn more about this riveting social experiment where five teenage couples fast-track to parenthood."
Riveting social experiment? Fast-track to parenthood? Let’s not take ourselves quite so seriously. This is a TV show designed to generate ratings during the summer hiatus. This is an attempt to make money. This is nothing more than entertainment (and barely that, most likely).
I’m guessing that the five teenage couples will struggle mightily with parenting. And they should. They’re teenagers. They shouldn’t be on this show. They should be out drinking with their friends, shoplifting and having unprotected sex. Oh, wait. That’s not right, either. I shouldn’t make light of this, I guess. I’m just not sure what’s so funny about giving kids who are completely unequipped to deal with their own lives the responsibility of dealing with another life…for entertainment purposes.
I know, I know…Teenagers are having kids all the time. Maybe this will be a good program that does actually deter a teenager from wanting to have a kid. I kind of doubt it, though. You see, in order for the show to be a deterrent, the teens actually have to watch the program. I’m guessing the demographics of viewers won’t include too many teenagers. (Maybe those girls in MA who supposedly had a pregnancy pact should all watch it together. That’s a whole ‘nother blog posting.)
You want to give kids "real life experience" about what it’s like to have a kid? Don’t make it into a TV show for three weeks and try to pass it off as a "social experiment." Instead, have REAL teenage parents come talk to their peers about how much is sucks to be a teen…and a parent. Don’t create "reality TV," which will be edited to be kind of fun and funny. Instead, produce the kind of documentary that scares kids straight.
When I took my driver’s education course 100 years ago, we had to watch Red Asphalt. In that movie, a dude got his face ripped off. Granted, it doesn’t work for everyone, but it certainly worked for me. Show the kids in health class REAL movies about parenting. Show them a movie called "Sleep Deprivation," and follow it up with, "Empty Bank Account," and "Never See Your Friends." That might help keep some pants up.
I confess: I have the TiVo set to record this debacle of a show. I’m going to watch the first episode – with the same morbid curiosity that causes me to slow down and look at car accidents. But, just as I do with those accidents, I may not really look and I’ll probably just speed away.
K-Man won’t be watching this show with me.