Hooked On ‘Fatherhood’

http://www.thechiefly.com/culture/television-notes/hooked-on-fatherhood/

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Hank Azaria’s Fatherhood is a new show not on television. It’s on the internet. This is not surprising; plenty of shows are now on the internet. What is surprising is whom you will find on the show: Bryan Cranston, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Mike Myers, Rainn Wilson, Joshua Malina, J.K. Simmons, Phil Rosenthal, Jim Gaffigan, Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Mike Nichols, just to name a few.

Fatherhood is a documentary created by and starring film and television star Azaria, whose original idea was to interview experts, friends and family about the rollercoaster of fatherhood.

His was the rational, academic approach to child-creating decisions: collect data for pros/cons list, weigh all options and scenarios, schedule conception and birth conveniently. Then two blue lines appeared on a stick and 30 weeks later, baby Hal was born.

Yes, 30 weeks. For the uninitiated, that’s eight to ten weeks (about two months) earlier than typical newborn arrivals. To add to that, the baby was only 2.5 pounds.

Azaria spent seven weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit visiting his son, the first two weeks of which he also spent visiting his recuperating girlfriend.

It is impossible not to be moved by a tennis-ball sized baby head looking up at the head of his father.

After two months, the family was able to unite at home and Azaria learned the first of many fatherhood lessons: “You just want them to be okay. You’re so grateful when [they are] healthy, you’re like, ‘Fine. Up late, diapers, screaming…’ you’ll take that deal in a heartbeat.”

This is fatherhood in the trenches, initiation by fire, and also, this is episode one.

Don’t worry, episode one is about as dramatic as it gets, but that’s not to say the show is devoid of sentiment. On the contrary, the conversations between Azaria and his celebrity friends and poker buddies are incredibly honest and, more often than not, equalizing.

Something incredibly refreshing about the series is that the stories told are not candy-coated late-night talk show anecdotes; they are part of a larger conversation among friends, many of whom are genuinely sharing parenting advice with a newbie.

This laid back, buddy-to-buddy style allows for more candid emotion to show through which, again, makes the stories’ tellers more relatable.

The subjects touched upon are not exclusive to celebrities. How much screen time to allow, what to do when parents disagree, what form of discipline to use and troubles with sharing are topics to which every parent can relate.

Money and fame bring only so much, and they don’t quell your panic when your toddler runs into the street.

After a few episodes, one begins to realize that children might be the one thing that most connects people. The show is like a video version of magazines’ “They’re just like you” section: ‘Celebrities! Their Kids Throw Tantrums In Grocery Stores Too!’

And it isn’t just for parents or people who like kids. The interactions are just as entertaining as Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee or Speakeasy, but instead of beverages, their center is fatherhood. It’s also a chance to guiltlessly listen in on a celebrity’s personal life. (It’s not creepy and invasive when they’ve agreed to be on camera.)

Fatherhood is also a fast series to binge-watch, because episodes are not much longer than 10 minutes and they don’t even need to be watched in order. Check out an episode, then try to resist watching more. THEEND

Jordan Lints

Jordan Lints

Political and Cultural Contributor
Jordan Lints

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