A 'real hunger' for shows like Workin' Moms, Catherine Reitman says
Show enters its 4th season Tuesday on CBC and CBC Gem
Some six years ago, when Catherine Reitman was creating her CBC comedy series Workin' Moms, she didn't see anything else like it on TV.
"What existed was a very, I believed, one-dimensional portrayal of what it was to be a working mother," Reitman said, in a recent interview.
"I remember watching Homeland, and it was like the B-story. Like, Carrie also has this kid that she has to worry about, but it's nowhere near as sexy and exciting as her job counteracting terrorism."
But that's changed.
As the Toronto-shot Workin' Moms enters its fourth season Tuesday on CBC and CBC Gem, featuring a group of mothers balancing their careers and families, Reitman notes several similar shows have cropped up in recent years.
Examples include The Letdown on ABC and Netflix; truTV's I'm Sorry; Motherland on Sundance Now and the BBC; Showtime's SMILF; and ABC's Single Parents.
"I think there was a real hunger out there for authentic mother stories," Reitman said. "And I think it's one of the reasons we're also criticized ... is that we're meant to represent every mother who's working, or every mother period and what they look like."
Some articles and fans on social media have criticized the characters for either being unrealistic or only representing a certain social class.
Reitman also co-produces and stars in Workin' Moms as Kate, a public relations executive and mother of two who's going through marital problems while running her own business.
Dani Kind plays Anne, a psychiatrist who's writing a book about the disciplinary methods she's using on her rebellious eldest daughter.
Juno Rinaldi plays Frankie, a real-estate agent in a complicated relationship with Bianca (Tennille Read), who became pregnant using eggs and sperm from donors.
And Jessalyn Wanlim plays Jenny, who is fighting for gender equality after getting promoted at a tech company.
Other cast members include Philip Sternberg, who plays Kate's husband and is also the series co-producer and Reitman's real-life husband.
Reitman was born in Los Angeles and is the daughter of Canadian filmmaker Ivan Reitman. Her other acting credits include the series Black-ish, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Family Guy.
I did not think anyone was going to give this indulgent story about mothers outside the nursery any time of day.- Catherine Reitman
When she debuted Workin' Moms in 2017, she thought it would be "one and done" after the first season.
"I did not think anyone was going to give this indulgent story about mothers outside the nursery any time of day," Reitman said.
"So I remember us sitting down when we were sort of blue-skying the arc of Season 1 and ... this whiteboard was just covered with ideas, and we went to town. Like, Season 1 is dense.
"And then we sat down for Season 2 and we were like, 'OK, we've got to do that again.' And you start thinking outside the box in a different way."
As Kind tells it, Reitman worked hard for a long time to sell Workin' Moms.
International fame on Netflix
Now, with a spot on Netflix globally, the series has international fame. Cast members say they're getting recognized on the street, and fans are sending them messages about how much they relate to the characters.
"It blows my mind that a woman in another country who is raising her baby under totally different circumstances than I am, is having the exact same human experience that I am, and can find that through the show," Kind said.
"It also makes me really proud to be on the show and to tell this story."
Such fame has also sparked a milestone for the stars' own children, who are now old enough to realize their mothers are also working moms — and famous ones, at that.
"My kids, for the first time, came to set this year, and they sat in the chair, and they watched me on screen," Rinaldi said.
"And then Mike, my husband, was saying it all dropped for them. They saw how loved I was on set, and they saw my work, and they put all the pieces together. I think my cred went up a bit."
Reitman said that revelation came for her son when he saw a fan approach her to gush about the series.
"Jackson, my six-year-old, was like: 'It seems like people really like it, mom,"' Reitman said.
"I was like, 'Yeah."'