Have I told you about the show we’ve been bingeing? You have got to watch Your Child’s Life. We are obsessed. It doesn’t get good until like Season 6. But if you hang in there, it’s sooo worth it.
The first season is pretty much all screaming. I don’t know if they were trying to be avant-garde or what. But it’s super annoying; you just sit there in despair, waiting for the episode to end. And the parent characters are like zombies; they hardly even have any dialogue. And there’s no sex. Zero. If I hadn’t been told it gets better, I would have bailed right then and there.
In the second season, the zombie Parents turn into these poorly drawn stock monster-parents. The Child is starting to do all these cute things like walk and talk, and any normal human would be smiling nonstop, just melting with love. But these unrealistic parent characters are constantly frustrated and annoyed. There’s this one scene where they venture out, and it’s so promising because it’s the first episode in forever where they’ve gone anywhere. You even start to think some new recurring characters might be introduced. But these cardboard Parents spend the whole time following the Child around, taking things out of its mouth, and trying to shut down its temper tantrums. Within an hour, the Parents are packing up their clownishly large diaper bag and apologizing to everybody that the Child was a little too fussy today and needs its nap. And then one of the Parents breaks down and sobs hysterically the whole ride home. Get a grip, people; no one is even noticing your kid. How are we supposed to relate to these improbable, pathetic villains?
No spoilers, but the next few seasons are so repetitive. I like to imagine the producers had some bet going about how many times could they get away with re-staging this exact conversation:
“I want milk.”
“Say it politely.”
“No, you have to say ‘please.’”
“I want milk. Please.”
“That’s not polite.”
“But I said ‘please.’”
Oh, for fuck’s sake, give the Child some milk! Seriously, the exact same lines of dialogue, every single episode, multiple seasons in a row? Where’s the character development?
And don’t even get me started on the Parents. They eventually have a few sex scenes, but the acting is atrocious, and it’s clear neither of them is into it. They spend all day, every day, looking haggard, defeated, bored, and desperate. It’s obvious they’re just waiting until the Child goes to bed so they can clamp eyes on the screens they love way more than the Child. But then, once the outlandishly elaborate bedtime routine is over, they come back downstairs and talk about almost nothing but the Child, repeating all these cute things they claim the Child said or did. Sometimes they even lean across the giant gulf between them to show each other pictures or, Jesus, even videos of what just happened that very day. It’s lazy screenwriting and completely out of character, so inconsistent. Like, do the writers even realize we’ve been watching the entire episode? We know these Parents can barely stand that kid, so don’t insult the audience’s intelligence trying to redeem them with this fake affection at the end of the episode.
By around the sixth season, though, it gets way better. The Child is finally old enough to be alone in a room, entertaining itself without choking on the props or burning the whole studio down. The Child starts public school, which is free, so suddenly there’s a budget for some interesting new sets, like restaurants and vacations. The Parents start talking to each other a bit, and they get little side plots involving hobbies and interests. A bunch of new recurring guest stars are introduced, friends they imply the Parents had hung out with before they had the Child.
Actually now that I’m talking about it, I know these later seasons don’t sound all that great. But by this point, you’re so invested in the characters you genuinely care how the PTA fundraiser goes and whether they get another sedan or a hybrid SUV. So, okay, I guess you can’t actually skip the first few seasons after all, because then you miss out on connecting with the characters, which is how you end up experiencing the huge, completely satisfying emotional payoff of an uneventful parent-teacher conference.
That’s kind of the genius of Your Child’s Life: Objectively, I would never choose any of this. Yet here I am, recommending the show to friends, totally absorbed, and loving every minute of it.