Nanny 911 12/1/04: The Priore Family, When the Moon Hits Your Eye Like A Big Pizza Pie.
But First, A Brief Word From Our Recapper
Hello friends, welcome back to this week’s episode of Nanny 911. I was discussing reality TV shows with some coworkers this week (without revealing my secret internet identity and the true depths of my reality TV obsession, of course) and we were talking about the “product placement” advertisements that are so blatantly displayed on other shows. The Apprentice candidates are designing Pepsi Edge bottles and pitching Crest toothpaste. The Rebel Billionaire is one long ad for Virgin Airlines and every other company that Branson has founded, tasteful ads, of course, but plugging away nonetheless. Heck, even the contestants on Survivor: Australia were treated to a “reward” of Sierra Mist and DorEEEEEEtos, both coincidentally Pepsi products, a major sponsor.
Why doesn’t Nanny 911 get into the act? I’m sure they could sell quite a number of ear plugs, remote controls with a “blab off” button, and the pharmaceutical companies spend tons of money advertising, when in actuality the entire viewing audience of Nanny 911 could probably benefit from a good old hit of Xanax after viewing an episode. Target market this stuff. It could work.
Let’s Meet the Priores: Ouch, My Quads are Killing Me!
As you know, I’m an avid reality TV viewer. I’ve watched a lot of shows. I seldom really like or care about the people on the shows. They have volunteered to be on a reality TV show, after all. Not the case with this show. I genuinely like the Nannies and for the most part all of the people in the families appearing on the shows. This week is no exception.
The Priores are good people. They’re just in over their head with too many kids, too much yelling, and somewhat clueless about how to make things more bearable. How unbearable is it? AYYYYYY CARUMBA!!!!! Oh wait, this our authentic Italian family. We need something more culturally appropriate. MAMA MIA!!!!!! WHATSA MATTA YOU?!?!?!?!
The Priore’s are an Italian American family with all of the boisterous displays of emotion that come with that. I’m reminded of the very dark comedy movie, Love You To Death that I made the mistake of seeing with my stoic parents, who were horrified. My regular readers know that I’m a Food Network fan, and my idea of an Italian American man is Emeril Lagasse. Mr. BAM! Kick it up a Notch! BAM! If anything, this family needs to kick it DOWN a notch, or several. Or take the whole knob right off the “kicking up” machine. Too much oregano, I’m afraid.
Dad Joe Priore is an Accounts Payable Manager, normally a pretty straight laced job. Unless of course we’re talking about The Onion’s Herbert Kornfeld, the H Dog of Accounts Receivable. Well, you either know Kornfeld or you don’t, but let’s just say that the annoying “making copies” guy from Saturday Night Live would have meet with Kornfeld’s “letta opener of death” if he’d tried that rhyming naming-calling shizzat around old H Dog’s cubicle of destruction.
Mom Nina Priore is a woman on the edge. Nope, she isn’t standing on the precipice of a sunken living room. She admits she’s having panic attacks in which she can’t breathe because of the stress in her household. I hear this and want to give Nina a big hug. And then slip her a vodka tonic. Seriously, that is terrible. Unlike pretty much all of the other mothers who have appeared on Nanny 911 who argue with the new rules and think they have a better way, Nina puts up no such fight as she realizes that Nanny Stella MUST have a better way, as their current way is breath-taking, and not in a beautiful way.
Nina has been on the receiving end of the kids emotional boxing match with each other and Joe and while she isn’t yet down for the count, I’m issuing her a standing 8 count and may step in to call this fight. Now, here’s a perfect place for a product placement. While Nanny Stella talks to the kids about cleaning their rooms, we could see Mom bolt the door of the only bathroom in the house and slip into the tub purring: “Calgon, take me away . . .”
The Kids: First we have 10 year old Faith. She had her parents all to herself for 2 years before things changed forever in the Priore household with the arrival of her quadruplet siblings. Faith wants to be “in charge” because she’s the oldest, but has power struggles with Joseph Jr., the most headstrong of the quads.
Joseph is wearing a t-shirt that says “Quads Rule.” Why yes. Yes they DO rule in this household. They’ve got the rest of the family out-numbered. Dad has created a monster with Joe Junior and the two are constantly yelling at each other at top volume. Fox owes me a new remote. Now, if one of those “universal remote” gizmo guy had run an ad, I’d be so there right now.
Joseph is eating the dog’s food right out of the bowl and throwing a tantrum. They have a fluffy white dog (a bichon fries, I believe) who is very good natured. Yes, I’m a dog fan. I can tell you that even my little pug would have taken a nip out of darling Joseph’s face if he would have started eating Puggy’s food. Good way to get bitten. As Great White once sang: “Once Bitten, Twice Shy.” Just like JELLO, there’s always room for hair-band references in recaps. I think Snowball is in shell shock from all the noise in the house. She’s given up even trying to defend her food bowl any longer. Insert product placement for a pet psychologist here.
The other quads are minor players in this drama. Son John is so quiet that I don’t remember him doing anything. Nicole is rather active and cartwheels around the house. Lynn is rather clingy and her “claim to fame” in this chaotic group is her joy of creating messes. Lynn even has a song that goes: “I’m making a mess” while she walks around dumping stuff on the floor.
Sing A Song of Chaos, a Pocket Full of Mess
I think that having a special song about the naughty behavior you’re engaging in is one of the Four Horsemen of the Bad Behaved Kids Apocalypse. It is the antithesis of “A Spoonful Of Sugar” or “Whistle While You Work.” I’m having poorly colorized visions of kids singing this “I’m Making a Mess” song in some sort of anti-Mary Poppins movie, billed as a horror movie for parents (or perhaps a sex education class video, hoping to gain the notoriety that “The Last Prom” has for driver’s education).
My Four Horsemen of the Children Behaving Badly Apocalypse:
1.) smug little songs about bad behavior
2.) inability to sit through a family dinner and eat like people
3.) toys being thrown inside the house
4.) children jumping and climbing on the furniture
How does this couch racing start? When the first kid jumps around on the couch, do the parents set up a target on the Lay-Z-Boy for the kids to aim at while jumping from the couch? Now I had brothers and we used the couch cushions as props while enacting WWF wrestling. One of my brothers had buried me under a cushion while telling me: “I am the Cobra, you are the, um, hamster” or something like that.
Yes we did that. Once. We did it once, and then we got kicked out of the house, told to play in the yard, that if we couldn’t watch wrestling if we wouldn’t sit still, and that the living room couch was not a play-set. My parents still have that couch. It’s a lovely shade of orange and olive green. It’s horribly dated, but it wasn’t destroyed by any living room gymnastics. Perhaps my mom is secretly wishing that we’d all come home and jump on the couch a couple of times to put it out of its/her misery so she could buy something more modern.
As you can probably tell by this point, I’ve given up on trying to chronicle the play-by-play action on this series. Frankly it was getting redundant. And sad. I like the show, I really do watch it every week, but I’m not going to take that bullet and have to relieve it blow by blow. I never used to have ADHD, but I might be acquiring it in adulthood from over-exposure to this show. Quick, call the New England Journal of Medicine, as this may be the first case of a neurological disorder being acquired via television. Well, maybe the second, as there was the whole Japanese animation / seizure thing a couple years back. Step away from the TV, Lil LG. I’m going to focus on what is new and different this week, and whatever shiny object has distracted my attention for this paragraph. Oh look, SPAM comes in individual serving sized containers now.
In a nutshell, these kids are BAD. Actually they’re bad in the house. I can’t even imagine the havoc they could raise if literally in a nut shell, as that would be tight quarters and they’d be bouncing off the rounded walls. At one point Joseph wants his Dad’s attention (while Dad is cooking dinner) and Joe shoos him away. Then Joseph runs into the other room and snatches away Faith’s book and then runs around the house playing “keep away” with Faith so she can’t get her book back.
Mom is very distraught because it is a school book and Joseph won’t give it back. Dad doesn’t know any other approach than yelling at him and forcing him onto the couch (oh poor couch, it must have been a naughty ottoman in a previous life) where Joseph squirms and cries and wriggles around until Dad walks away and then he’s off Scot free. Did I mention this would be a great point to make a pitch for Scotch Guard to protect this furniture from stains. Oh, 3M is on the phone with Fox right now. I could do consulting work, Fox, I’ve got lots of ideas here for you. Joseph slinks away, planning his next attention-getting deeds.
New Rules are a Priore-ity
Nanny Stella hasn’t suggested product placements, but she does have some good ideas. There are family rules, of course. Here we go:
Nanny Stella’s Rules:
1. No yelling – the noise in this house starts with the parents (mostly Joe) and filters down to the children. They’ve learned that yelling is appropriate and do it without hesitation. This will be a tough rule for Joe. Perhaps they need to install a decibel meter with a warning bell like a fire alarm, and when the yelling gets too loud (the same level as jet airplane taking off, perhaps), sprinklers go off and cool down these hot-heads.
2. Everyone has to listen and not interrupt. Oooooh, the “I have the floor” rule. I’ve never seen a family dinner run by Roberts’ Rules of Order, but it would be a refreshing change of pace from the chaos that most of the families on Nanny 911 display. There is a motion to pass the potatoes, can I can get a second? Point of Order, Dad. Potato passing by rule was approved by the subcommittee and presented before the whole family at the last general assembly.
3. No hitting, punching, or PILE DRIVING – see now this is the type of rule I’m used to seeing. No sleeper holds either, and furniture is for sitting on, not jumping from. Ok, Nanny Stella didn’t go that far, as her rules all pertain to touching other people, not inanimate objects. But she should, as I hate to see a perfectly lovely china cabinet or overstuff chair suffer at the hands of unruly children. Power to the furnishings!
4. No spanking – a rule directed at the parents, rather than the kids. This goes to show that the “learning” on this show is really directed at the parents rather than the kids. You live as you learn. And I’m learning to meander more and more during my recaps. Oh look, the Re-Max balloon is out in the family’s yard. No it’s not. But it COULD have been. Wouldn’t that have been a subtle product placement.
5. Good behavior is rewarded, bad behavior has penalties – try to catch your children “being good” and then praise them. Yelling, in and of itself, while thoroughly unpleasant, isn’t a punishment that these kids understand. Consequences include losing privileges, which these kids are old enough to enjoy. Speak their language. Take away their videogames and television privileges. As foreign a concept it is to me, a high-volume TV watcher, TV is a privilege for children and it can be taken away without fear of a charge of child endangerment. I’m sure my brothers and I still to this day feel the lack in our upbringing that one week that we missed the end of WWF wrestling, yet somehow we survived. Persevered against that most brutal of adversity, we are probably stronger for it.
One Down, One to Go
This is the point where the parents usually roll their eyes in unison and comment in an aside to the camera that Nanny Stella has no idea how tough “their kids” are and it won’t work. Much like Adrienne to Rocky, “You CAN’T Win, Stella.” Mom doesn’t fight this structure at all. Let’s face it, Mom doesn’t have the fight left in her. Dad still thinks that yelling is a panacea on par with Aspirin or Penicillin. Not behaving yet? Better yell some more.
I’ve even got a yelling cheer for them:
We’re the Priores’,
Couldn’t be prouder!
If you can’t hear us,
We’ll yell a little louder!
Off The Charts! Off the Floor.
In addition to the Family Rules, this week we also have the “good vs. evil” chart for all of the kids. Later, she adds Joe, as he’s the main offender of the “no yelling” rule. Joe balks at this and feels like he’s being scolded like a child. Perhaps just like an adult who isn’t getting the picture. Every day they are assigned either a “pass” or a “fail” for three categories” Behavior, Helping Mom, and Helping Dad. I’m guessing that Joe gets an automatic pass on that last category, unless he’s having a split personality disagreement. Joe thinks that the board is “garbage” and that there is no way it will work. Hmmmmm, maybe Dad should leave the board on the floor. There seems to be lots of other stuff cluttering the floors of this house.
Nanny Stella tells the kids that any clothes or toys or other items left on the floor are going into the black garbage bag. They don’t think she’s serious. And given the past history of yelling but no follow-through with punishments, why would they? When the kids get home from school she walks them through their rooms while she picks up prized possessions (including Faith’s baton) and stuffs them into her HEFTY bag. Or is it a GLAD bag? Could be either, or even Ruffies. Oooooh, a bidding war for potential show sponsors. I can see my commissions rising by the minute.
Joe is the only one who isn’t on board with Nanny Stella’s program. Stella gives us the classic line of countless Bachelor contestants: “I didn’t come here to make friends.” She came to woo Byron. No, wait. She came to educate. Joe will either listen to her or kick her out. With the mere mention that Nanny might get kicked out, Nina starts gasping for air. Nanny Stella has a private talk with Joe, mostly about how he can lessen the conflict with Joseph by making sure that he take the time to do things together with him and give him attention for being good, not just bad. Guess what Joseph. We’re going to Disneyland! If Disney wanted to be a sponsor of the show. . .
By some miracle of modern editing, in the last five minutes Joe suddenly tries not yelling. He finds that if he spends more quality time with Joseph, he won’t act up as much. The tantrums subside. Kids want to show how good they are being and are getting “sweep the board” passing grades in all three categories. Kids are proud of being good. Tears start flowing. Stella is really proud of the whole family, especially Joe. Stella promises to keep in touch with the family to make sure that they are staying on top of the family rules. Stella reiterates my thoughts that they are good people, but that they’d just “gotten lost” somewhere along the way in trying to parent all their kids. This is all very sweet. So darn sweet that I don’t have anything snarky to say about it. Damn you, Fox.
The Curious Incident of the Missing Family Event
For some reason, this is the first week that we’re not shown some “important family event” occurring shortly after the Nanny’s visit as an affirmation of the changes made. And just after I’d mentioned it in my last recap as a gimmick. Co-incidence? I think not.
Maybe it’s just on the editing room floor as we hadn’t had nearly enough time for shouting and furniture jumping if we devote an entire minute to that. Or else the test wasn’t quite as successful as it was for prior episodes. Let’s hope not. Let’s hope this crew is getting along just swimmingly these days.
As a gift, the family will receive a new addition on their house. More bedrooms for the kids and another bathroom. Modern Proverb: “The family that has more than one toilet is a happier family indeed.” Take that, you fortune cookie company who rejected me as a writer. This will be a terrific boon for this family, especially 5 years from now when there will be 5 teenagers in the house.
Next week, we’re promised to see Nanny Yvonne. I’m not holding my breath. Or else I am. I’m throwing a tantrum. I won’t take another breath until . . .
Email me your parents’ wackiest rules to firstname.lastname@example.org m