On October 1st, Nick Jr. launched "NickMom," a programming block for mothers that replaces Dora the Explorer with dick jokes and "Bad Mommy" humor. So far, the aforementioned mommies (and daddies) are not pleased.
NickMom now offers moms four original series with titles such as MFF: Mom Friends Forever, NickMom Night Out, and Parental Discretion on a nightly basis, from 10 PM to 2 AM EST. The programming is geared toward the stereotypical "Bad Mommy": the yoga-pants wearing, Skinny Girl Margarita-swilling lady who — don't tell anyone! — reads Fifty Shades of Grey while Billy's down for his afternoon nap. "At a certain point in the evening, hopefully the little ones are in bed, and this is an opportunity for mom to get some much-needed me-time," NickMom senior vice president Bronwen O'Keefe told Newsday.
But a growing number of parents are so outraged by the concept behind "NickMom" that they've launched a number of fervent social media campaigns, ranging from a Change.org petition (which has over 850 signatures so far) to a "Cancel NickMom" website, which says it represents "the voice of millions of parents" who refuse to "stand quietly while Viacom's corporate greed and irresponsiblility destroy one of the only 24 hour preschool channels." Their goal is to get NickMom off the air for good.
Are they overreacting? It doesn't seem so. Dozens of parents told us about their issues in detail: some fathers are pissed about the "extreme anti-dad sentiment" (NickMom's website's says "since being a mom is a 24/7/365 job, we're gonna give you the break you deserve" and often posts "anti-dad" memes on its official Facebook page), and some bloggers have accused NickMom of plagiarizing, but the majority of parents are upset about the on-air content, which includes jokes about stoned TGI Fridays busboys, circumcision, grandma's vaginas, and lots and lots of sex.
"I myself am not naive or prudish enough to say I don't watch adult programming, but it is irresponsible to put [this content] on Nick Jr.," wrote Lori Martin, a mother of a two and a three-year-old. "They couldn't start with 'how-to' segments, or cooking tips. They had to throw hardcore comedy on there from day 1."
One angry mother sent us a clip of a comedian cracking jokes about teaching her daughter about sex. "And when I got to the part about 'and then the man puts his penis in the woman's vagina,' she said, 'Ewww!' and I was like, 'Yeah pretty much,'" she quips. In a Parental Discretion clip, host Stefanie Wilder-Taylor asks a children's party entertainer how her job is "really that different from prostitution" and jokes about orgasms. It's harder to find an episode that doesn't somehow resemble one of the lesser Judd Apatow movies than it is to find one that's actually appropriate for the usual Nick Jr. set.
Other parents are less concerned about crude jokes that'll probably go over kid's heads than they are about those that their children might actually understand. A few parents wrote in about a line that poked fun at an Asian baby that "actually" had Asian parents. (Get it? Because adopting Asian babies is so hot right now!) "As an adoptive family it is very offensive to me and my family," wrote April Martinez, who has two 3-year-old twin sons. "Especially coming from a network that is supposed to be directed to children and in this case moms, or apparently from what I am gathering, only moms that give birth to their children. I am just glad that my children are only 3 and are not old enough to have gotten the content. They are of a different race than of my husband and I would hate for them to think that something is wrong with them because some comic on a children's network made a poor joke."
Other stand-up comedians make fun of kids who need night lights to sleep, or talk about how they don't really like their kids. "I know it was just a joke, but I'm sure that the toddlers and very young children who happened to be watching before their parents managed to make the switch didn't understand the joke." a parent noted.
Parent after parent said that it didn't matter that the programming came on later in the evening, because they rely on Nick Jr. even after dark. "We live on the west coast so NickMom starts at 7pm - just the time we are getting our daughter ready for bed," one parent told us. "A little Nick Jr, bed time stories and she's out. Not anymore..." Another parent who said her 4-year-old daughter stays up until 11 PM because her pre-K doesn't start until 1 PM and she's "not a morning person" was "appalled that so many children are accidentally being exposed to this garbage; it's not even something most moms want to watch! I turned on NickMom ONE time and within 5 seconds of doing so I saw a woman asking another woman, 'What makes a baby ugly?' The woman responded, 'It's like pornography, you know it when you see it."' Seriously? They think things like this should EVER be on a preschooler's channel?'"
Then there's Skip Parrish, who said Nick Jr. used to keep his 27-month-old calm:
From when Billy was 3 months old I was the one staying up nights with him when he could not sleep. I actually switched my work schedule back then to 2nd shift so I could stay up with him all night if needs be and everyone else could get sleep. It might not have done anything to save my marriage but it helped me and Billy bond. I look back on those nights fondly. I never want him to lose sleep again, but he is always so cute and thankful when I sit up with him. Now I have to worry about the first time it will happen sans Nick Jr, both due to my boycott of the channel during non NickMom times and, as everyone has to do now, especially during the times NickMom is on the air.
It's too early to tell whether NickMom — which didn't respond to requests for comment — is actually failing to resonate with moms; it's possible parents will get used to the idea of late-night Nick Jr. programming and let the issue go. But the "Cancel NickMom" team is only just beginning the fight. "We have the power to make a change," the website's moderator wrote. "It might not happen over a month's time, but we will prevail."