'The Letdown' Review
Remaining a Person in Parenthood
I am a true binge-head. When I find a show, I get sucked into the world that the writers have created and cannot pull myself out until the series is over or until I run out of episodes. This makes starting a brand new show difficult because they end too quickly for my taste and because of that I have made a rule for myself that I do not watch a program unless there are at least two seasons available. Its a tough rule but it works for me most of the time. However, at times I break my rule and with the new Netflix series The Letdown, I am so glad that I did.
The Letdown is an Australian production, filmed in New South Wales and tells the story of Audrey (played by Alison Bell). Audrey is a new mother that tries to bring order to her new life and make sense of all of her new challenges by joining a parenting group at her community centre. The group of parents is made up of five mothers and one father/mother couple and are a beautiful mix of high power executives to professional stay at home moms. Through the far too short season, we see how each parent struggles and excels in raising their children and finding a balance between all night cry fests and trying to be a person with a life and friends.
What I love about The Letdown is the open way being disappointed with your maternal instincts or lack there of is discussed. As a mom myself, I felt terrified to admit to other moms that, many times, I felt lost and completely unsure of all of my decisions and that most days I thought that my husband was a much better parent. There are still days when he is more maternal than me and it still makes me feel like Audrey when she is thinking, “should I have done this?” With Audrey's story, she unmasks not just the sleep difficulties, which are always discussed, but also the pressure to be a perfect mother in the eyes of your peers. There is a lovely moment where Audrey would rather have one of the other moms think she is buying erotica then admit she needs a parenting self help book.
The show is also about relationships. The women in the parenting group really become a support system for one another and are able to fill in the gaps where their own nuclear family may be lacking. Its also nice to see a whole cast of female positive characters. There is plenty of uncovered breast feeding, embarrassing mommy accidents, parental leave, wage gap talk, and an impassioned speech about how powerful stay at home moms truly are. There are so many touching moments where we see these characters begin to pull down their walls and let each other in.
Then there are the partners. This is where I have a few problems because I am not a fan of the male staple characters of the clueless husband or Mr. Mom in any show and was sad to see them pop up in The Letdown. I feel like these stereotypes that we use for male characters is not only detrimental to the progress of the storyline but it begins to change the female characters into shrewish, up tight, nags which is something we are always fighting against. It is disappointing that the woman with the most powerful career in the show comes off as cold and pushy because her husband wants to be a stay at home dad or that she is hardly seen interacting with her baby. Or that Audrey freaks out at her husband for simply laying down while she was comforting the baby because “he doesn't get it.” I don't believe that making powerful and positive female characters means that we have to make the male characters to be fumbling, childlike idiots. While I don't believe the male characters in The Letdown are quite that low, I do hope that in the second season that the creators will make them to be just as full and dynamic as the women.