'The Mommies': Burbs and babies, courtesy of NBC TURNED ON IN LA. -- Fall Preview

July 22, 1993|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Television Critic

Los Angeles -- "We come from the suburbs, where we explore our Webers instead of our sexuality. We don't want sex more than once a month. . . . The difference between us and June Cleaver is that her kids didn't need an attorney."

Meet The Mommies.

In real life they are mommies from suburban California, Marilyn Kentz and Caryl Kristensen, who three years ago formed a stand-up comedy act based on their lives of car pools, morning sickness and PTA meetings.

Yesterday, NBC introduced them to the press. On Sept. 18, NBC will introduce them to America in a sitcom, "The Mommies," also based on car pools, morning sickness and PTA meetings.

In a season when network TV is going to be wall-to-wall kids and nothing is going to be as cool as parenting, "The Mommies" is a window to an audience the networks are trying to reach most of all. It's also refreshingly funny.

"There's a whole, ignored demographic when it comes to entertainment: mothers, real mothers," says Kristensen, 32, a mother of two.

"Most of the comedy is directed at the 25-year-old male who can't buy a date. Well, that was funny to me when I was 20 but it's not anymore, because what's funny to you is what's relevant to what you live.

"And there's this whole huge audience out there that buys products and will find our show funny and a release for them because it's really about their lives."

"The show is about not being alone," says Kentz, 45, also a mother of two.

"As a suburban housewife, you can get caught in a cycle where you don't get out too much to get a reality check to find out that all of our children are probably going to grow up to be criminals. And that it's OK.

"It's about our real lives," Kentz says.

In the pilot, their lives include:

* Morning sickness. Kristensen's character is pregnant. As she's cooking breakfast, her husband sidles up to her and says romantically, "There's a special glow about you this morning."

"Yeah, it's from hanging over the bathroom bowl," she replies.

* Teen-agers. "Being the mother of a teen-ager is like watching 'Jeopardy' every night," Kentz's character says. "After a while, you start to think, 'Maybe I am stupid.' "

* Young children. "I used to read to the kids when they were little," Kristensen's character says. "But I've got to tell you, if that book got too long I skipped pages -- until they were old enough to know the difference."

There are also frank and funny riffs between the two next-door neighbors about vasectomies, childbirth, sexual fantasies, teen sex, leotard thongs, male anxiety about genitalia, and exercise classes.

"Compared to Roseanne, I'd say we're more geared to your white-bread cul-de-sac crowd," Kristensen says.

"We'd like to do for the suburban cul-de-sac what she did for the trailer park," Kentz adds.

"The tone of our show, hopefully, is like a group of women who are best friends getting together on a Sunday afternoon and everyone has had a little too much wine, and you're on a roll."

Kristensen and Kentz play off each another nicely.

"She looks good for 45, doesn't she?" Kristensen says of her partner. "She wanted to be a cheerleader, but her mother didn't care enough to hire a hit man."

The age difference, key to their humor, is another plus for NBC. It gives the network a chance at hitting the demographic bull's-eyes important to TV advertisers.

While Kentz identifies herself as "totally of the '60s," Kristensen says, "I grew up in the '70s, and we became very polyester. . . . The difference between us is that we didn't share our drugs like they did.

"I just think John Travolta and Greg Brady are a little cooler than Paul McCartney," Kristensen says.

"And I'm a little embarrassed for you because of that, Caryl," Kentz says.

"Actually, we do a bit in our shows about our age differences," Kristensen says, "where Marilyn is talking about Timothy Leary and how great he is, and I say, 'The only thing that man's dropping now is antacid.' "

"Marilyn and I bring very different things to the TV show, but our values are very much in alignment," Kristensen says.

"And that's how our friendship works. . . . We want the same things for our kids and our families."

Kentz describes that friendship as forged during such experiences as "being on the road in Kansas City, missing our kids and PMSing together."

How will that kind of humor play with male viewers?

"Obviously, our strongest demographic is with women between our two ages," Kristensen says.

"But women will come back with their husbands to our shows to say, 'See, honey, I'm not the only one who thinks that way.' "

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