Jo Frost Extreme Parental Guidance Review: Extremely Absurd

March 2, 2010 by  
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JO FROST EXTREME PARENTAL GUIDANCE: Tuesday 2nd March, Channel 4, 8pm ALERT ME

Jo Frost: Extreme Parental Guidance is extreme like Pepsi Max is extreme. It thinks it’s the must-have refreshment of Norwegian base jumpers. In fact, it’s drunk almost exclusively by overweight taxi drivers from Colchester.

Properly extreme parenting is changing nappies on a bobsleigh. Or locating your naughty step on the edge of an East Anglian soil eroded cliff top. It is not sternly persuading your offspring to eat broccoli.

But this is not a programme which struggles to overreach itself. The show’s website begins the process, saying, “becoming a parent is like embarking on a journey, but the trouble is no one provides a map. Until now…? No longer simply a “no-nonsense? child minder with a Range Rover and a congenital inability to pronounce the letter ‘h’, Frost has actually become a lifestyle cartographer.

So instead of just going to the homes of exhausted parents with troublesome kids and helping them with their discipline problems, in this series she goes to the homes of exhausted parents with troublesome kids and helps them with their discipline problems. Then takes part in some statistically inadmissible pseudo-scientific projects to prove sugar doesn’t make your kids hyperactive. For some reason.

But that’s what writing a parenting map is all about, folks. And if that means dispensing advice about healthy eating in a food special as brazenly as the Chelsea football team might dispense advice on happy marriages, then so be it. She has, after all, “taken on the challenge of making us all better parents.?

In fairness to Frost and this programme, if you want a no-nonsense nanny to dispense no-nonsense child care advice, and persuade children to eat broccoli when they don’t particularly want to, then she’s your girl. And, even if we have seen it all before, there are no doubt some parents who will take her advice and make their homes a marginally happier place as a result.

So don’t hate this programme. Just hate its contribution to that most diabolical of televisual phenomena: superlative inflation. For the real danger is not the show’s absurd overreach. The danger is that, with the word ‘extreme’ effectively lobotomised from meaningful televisual vernacular, producers will have to invent new, and ever more inflated ways of describing the challenges of parenthood. The School of Tiny Terrorists, perhaps. Or Supernanny’s Bastardbinladen Moms USA.