Here’s a take so hot that it’s likely to liquefy the device upon which you happen to be consuming it: There’s a lot of content out there nowadays. Yup, there sure is. Sorry about the eighth-degree burns, Charlene.
We appear to be addressing this content glut in much the same manner we address most of our surpluses here in ‘merica nowadays: By creating more content. Brands of all kinds are upping the creation pace, as are studios, networks, Amazons, random nobodies, random somebodies and the kid across the street (speaking of whom: Good luck at college in the fall! Thanks for the below-market-rate babysitting! The kids will miss you!).
Me, I’ve accepted that I will die without having consumed “Terriers” or the 76 hours worth of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and ESPN “30 For 30” documentaries currently languishing in DVR purgatory. After reckoning with kids, work and society’s impractical demands regarding personal hygiene, I don’t have the time to set aside for a “Orange Is the New Black” marathon or even a “Master of None”5K. I’m most likely to consume content that’s readily available and easily digestible when, say, the two-year-old over-naps by eight minutes.
Which is why I dig everything about ABC’s new ABCd Originals slate of quick-hit digital series, and especially “Newborn Moms.” The seven series, which magically appeared within my ABC app on Wednesday, span a range of genres (cooking, reality, comedy) and intensities (only a single installment of “On the Record” has been posted, compared with 20 eps of “Tastemade Get Cookin’”). What the series have in common - and what distinguishes them from nearly all of the minimalist content plays we’ve seen emerge during the last year or two - is that they’re defined less by their length/mobile-friendliness than by their cleverness and the specificity of their voices. They are, in a word or three, really blippin’ good.
None of the seven series are conceptually ambitious. “Forever 31” explores the romantic and professional displacement (and viciously intensified hangovers) of young-ish-adulthood. “Boondoggle” is “Entourage,” but populated by married middle-aged men instead of Wahlbergian dipshits. “All My Gay Friends Are Getting Married” is pretty much what its name implies. You’ve seen these shows before in various guises.
But you haven’t seen them winnowed of all tele-trappings and brought to life with such economy. Take “Gay Friends,” which comes across as warmer and lower-key than any other portrait-of-a-wedding docu-series in recent memory. Or take “Newborn Moms,” my favorite of the bunch, which eviscerates the clichés of modern-day momhood.
To experience the shows as a non-old person might, I watched the entirety of “Newborn Moms” during a single train ride home from the office. I totally went Full Millennial: white ear buds, audible giggling, frequent toggles between screen and email and messaging app, etc. It is probable that my fellow travelers thought I was in the throes of a seizure.
Happily, I didn’t sabotage the content experience. Operating within a broad premise - two new
mothers ponder the gap between the moms they expected to be and the moms they are - “Newborn Moms”
wouldn’t be anywhere near as much fun if it aired on ABC proper. There are naughty words and not-ready-for-consumption-in-
The smallest ideas shine. One ep, “War Stories,” consists of nothing more than the two protagonists and two friends one-upping each other with tales of belabored labor, complete with anesthetic-free C-sections and adult diapers. There’s no set-up, no resolution and nothing resembling a conventional punchline. It’s a minimalist marvel.
Indeed, the scenarios aren’t played for the usual broad belly laughs; there’s an honesty and wistfulness that pervades each familiar beat. In the last of the nine episodes, one of the two moms responds to a question about her summer vacation plans with “saving for day care.” It’s a funny line, made funnier by its random appearance in a bit about Facebook depictions of mommyhood. But it leaves a mark.
You’ll nod. You’ll laugh. And you’ll rip through the entirety of “Newborn Moms” in roughly 29 minutes. It provides more bang for your temporal buck than just about anything in the digital content realm.