Guys, TLC premiered the first episode of its new docu-series, Family S.O.S With Jo Frost, last night. It’s about Supernanny tackling all kinds of problems in families with kids of all different ages so instead of only toddler-parent struggles like in Supernanny, we’re also treated to teenager-parent blowups. That’s a treat, you see, because the interactions between the teens and their parents on this show are just as crazy as those of the families on Supernanny, only with the advantage of matured language skills (sometimes). But if you’ve ever watched an episode of Nanny Jo’s old show (or day-long marathons of it, which is my personal preference), you also know that when a family finally gets its act together, it makes for some sweet, call-your-mom-and-tell-her-that-you-love-her TV. I did exactly this while watching except, instead of calling my mom, I just cried, wondered why I was crying, and then cried some more.
But it isn’t all a walk in the park for the blended Quinn-Davis family, which has six teenagers (!!) and parents who admit that they are not in love anymore. Actually, the beginning half of the episode is more like a springtime walk through a park for a person with hay fever — in other words, the exact opposite of pleasant. It’s got all of the things that can be expected from a family that Jo plans to fix: wild kids, a rule-free household and parents who have reached the ends of their ropes. The only thing that’s missing is Jo’s English town car and librarian glasses because I guess she wants the older kids that she’s now working with to think she’s cool like them. I even think it was a nice touch that they aired the footage of one of the sons, Chad Quinn-Davis, accusing Jo and her crew of wanting to exploit his family’s problems. It made me ready to believe that this show isn’t one of those reality shows that is full of lies. I’m looking at you, Breaking Amish: Brave New World.
At about the halfway point of the episode, Jo switches from the observing stage where she watches the family internally combust to the coaching stage where she helps them through their fights and gives them feedback on how to ease their tensions in a healthy way. Good ol’ Nanny Jo to the rescue. And, like, this is the part where my tear ducts malfunctioned and started producing these tears that I did not want.
One of the changes to the household that Jo implements is the introduction of these little mailboxes, each belonging to a different member of the the family. In these boxes, she urged them to put in little notes about why they appreciated the person who owns the box. These little notes are the perfect idea because they are like sending someone flowers “just because,” except pieces of paper aren’t overpriced and expected to die in a week. And if you’ve ever seen an exhausted dad read in his kid’s handwriting that he’s appreciated for being strong for everyone, then you know exactly how this kind of thing could’ve made me tear up. And then at the end of the episode when everyone is profusely thanking Jo for saving their family, I happy-cried again! That’s right, even though I didn’t sad-cry, I totally happy-cried twice in one episode of this show. I’m sure there’s some witchcraft afoot.
At the end of the episode, Chad admits that despite his doubts, he is thankful for Jo because she was sincere in her efforts to help him and his family through their issues. I didn’t cry again that time but it made me realize that what I’m thankful for is the fact that this show isn’t out to hide the parts of the process that aren’t perfect, which, again, isn’t uncommon in this genre. The show is packed with authentic emotion which allows its viewers to feel something when watching it and isn’t making people feel something what good entertainment is all about?