Series / Supernanny
show which originated in the United Kingdom about parents struggling with their children's behaviour. The UK version aired on Channel Four
from 2004 to 2012, and the US version on ABC
Professional nanny Jo Frost devotes each episode to helping a family where the parents are struggling with their child rearing. Through instruction and observation, she shows the parents alternative ways to discipline their children and regain order in their households. Frost is a proponent of the "naughty chair" theory of discipline, and is strictly opposed to spanking.
This show provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Jo has called a few parents out on corporal punishment or using hot sauce to keep a child from talking back. She also took one dad to task for calling his son a "little whiny brat." But the worst case was with the Davis family, where the father made a habit of using his belt on his kids and calling his daughters b—, "whore," and "slut."
- The Fernandez parents are extremely verbally abusive before Jo finishes her work. Mom is particularly guilty. She threatens to knock her kids' teeth out or bust their lips. She also uses the police as a threat, and points out random strangers on the street to her two young sons. She then tells them that the stranger (a man in the case Jo observes) "takes away little boys who don't listen to their parents...he takes them into the kitchen, chops them up, and eats them."
- Affectionate Nickname: A few. The Schwartz girls call their Aunt Donna "Nonnie." The Young parents have nicknames for their two youngest boys, Makai (Kai-Guy) and Crew (Crewbie).
- Alliterative Name: Some families have these, especially those with twins. The Keilens have twins Maile (pronounced "Miley") and Malia, while the Uva family has seven-year-old Trevor and five-year-old Travis. The Goins family has this as well; it overlaps with Family Theme Naming since all three kids have K names (Kallan, Kolben, and Kadance).
- The Simmons family has a unique situation where their two sets of twins have one P and one S name—Payton and Sophia, and Parker and Sydney.
- Also the Quinn family: Cally, Casey, Corey, and Carli. The Drake family had Josie, Jordan, and Justin.
- The Mann family also has a unique example. Parents Melissa and Mark share their M name with one of their triplets, Madeline. The other children are Nathaniel and Nora (triplets) and Naomi (not a multiple, oldest child).
- The Kerns family: Brandon, Bryce, and Brenna. They get bonus points because the parents are Shannon and Shawn.
- Armor-Piercing Question: Jo is god at saying exactly the right thing to say to get through to oblivious or resistant parents.
- Asian and Nerdy: The parents of the An-Duan family seem to want their kids to become this. Thus, they overload them with activities like Chinese school, sports, ballet, writer's workshops, and more. Jo gets them to shape up, though, and the trope is averted.
- Bratty Half-Pint: The younger counterparts, either boys or girls, to the Bratty Teenage Daughter trope.
- Bratty Teenage Daughter: Most of the time.
- Averted with several, such as the teenage Chapman girls and fourteen-year-old Morgan Davis.
- Bumbling Dad: On Supernanny, if you're not a workaholic dad or a Drill Sergeant Nasty, you might be this. These are mostly the dads who prefer to sleep, play on the computer, or watch TV rather than being involved with their kids. Jo makes it clear that she doesn't appreciate it.
- Some of the dads are bumbling in the sense that they want to be their kids' buddies, leaving Mom to handle all the discipline. What results is a good cop/bad cop scenario Jo immediately puts the kibosh on.
- But Now I Must Go: Jo leaves a family after about a week at minimum when the family she's helped is capable of continuing her techniques and being happier.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: The Peterfreund dad liked to discipline his boys by placing hot sauce on their tongues—for any infraction, not just bad language. Unusual in that up to then, viewers had only seen parents who did ineffective time-outs, spanked, or just didn't discipline period. Jo makes clear that this is crazy and will not work, but the Peterfreunds act like it will.
- Cool Old Lady: A lot of the grandparents featured on the show.
- Cute but Cacophonic: Lord, some of these cute little kids can SCREAM. Adam Gorbea, age 2, and Dylan Van Acker, 3, were two of the biggest offenders.
- Dad the Veteran: Jo has helped a couple of families where the dad's in the service, notably the Merrills and Mc Millions.
- Darker and Edgier: The new series Family SOS with Jo Frost is, in some ways, a reincarnation of this show, but often deals with much more serious issues. The kids are usually older, and parents generally have deep-seated marriage, abuse, and other problems. Some older kids are downright violent with family members. Social issues tend to be deeper and more controversial as well; a recent episode had Jo helping a teenager who had recently come out as a lesbian.
- The British Original series is this to the American series. The British version doesn't have any goofy sound effects, and keeps the pervasively 'funny' music to scenes where children are actually doing good things, and is often released without any swearing being censored.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Many of the sterner parents act like this. It's usually the dad, but there have been a couple of Drill Sergeant Nasty mothers, too. The Bowersock mother, who literally made her kids eat soap, was one. The Bixley mom from the U.K., who responded to picky eating by forcing food into her son's face, was another.
- Disproportionate Retribution: In the Bixley Family episode, the parents are reprimanded for giving their food-phobic son a fast-food meal which he happily gobbled up, even though if Jo hadn't helped them in the first place, he would scream at the sight of it until he would physically retch and vomit.
- Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off: See Abusive Parents, especially the Davis family.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Some mild examples. In early seasons, when Jo said something like, "That's unacceptable behavior," it came out sounding like "unacceptable" had two soft C's, being pronounced as Unuhsseptable. In fact, a nine-year-old kid very rudely called her on it. It improved markedly in later seasons. In some early episodes, Jo does not fully explain all techniques, or she may perform a technique slightly differently than she was known to in later years.
- Education Mama: The An-Duan mom is a mild version. We don't see her insisting on perfect grades, but she gets rather upset when Jo suggests that one of her sons stop seeing a language arts tutor (he and his siblings were already loaded down with activities). The reason he was seeing a tutor? At nine years old, he apparently didn't have a perfect grasp of "sentence structure" and "descriptive paragraphs."
- Enfant Terrible: The children, while disrespectful and aggressive, are very rarely this. However, the parents are often so overwhelmed that they think their kids are this, and say so. Having said that, a few children acted out so much they even shocked Jo. Special mention to three-year-old Kaiden McKinney, whose behavior was so aggressive Jo didn't use time-outs; instead, he was given a "one strike and you're out" policy. Special mention also to Megan Cook and Maddie Porter, two nine-year-old girls who could and did out-tantrum kids a third their age.
- Family Theme Naming: Sometimes, as with the Froebrichs, all of whose children had E names (Emerson, Emmett, Emma Jo), and a couple of others.
- Hands-Off Parenting: Sometimes.
- Happily Adopted: The Merrill kids are all adopted, two from Ghana and two from Guatemala. Some families, like the Walkers, are also raising a niece or nephew along with the biological kids.
- Ill Girl/Boy: The mom from the Tsironis family justifies letting her toddler twins do whatever they want because they almost died shortly after birth. The parents from the McGrath family don't discipline five-year-old Aidan partially because of diabetes; the maternal grandfather died from this disease, and Mom was scared her son would succumb as well. The Bruno family has a fifteen-year-old, Mariah, with cerebral palsy, but she is not a discipline problem. Jo has also dealt with autism and Down syndrome, but again, the parents there are not so much using the disabilities as excuses for bad behavior, as much as they are asking for help on how to relate to their kids.
- Innocent Swearing: Subverted big-time. Some of these kids, most shockingly the little ones, not only swear like crazy, but know exactly what the words mean and why they are using them. In the American version of the Collins Family episode, the latter half of one the kid's sentences in a scene where they are making riot in the garden is censored after "Ben can go -". In the British original version, this is actually "Ben can go ''Fuck the dog's arse''.
- In-Series Nickname : "Supernanny" for Jo, of course, which is usually used in the submission reels. Jo also introduces herself to younger kids as "Jo Jo".
- Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Averted. When Jo meets the Baulisch parents, both of whom are deaf, she makes clear that deafness should not effect the effort and quality of parenting. In the cases where a family has a disabled child, Jo respects modifications but treats him or her like any other kid.
- Magical Nanny: Every aspect except the actual magic. Jo enters troubled households, lays down the law, teaches the parents and bonds with the kids. After she feels that the family is under control and happier, Jo leaves to help another family.
- Massive Numbered Siblings: A couple of times. The Costellos had ten kids; the Millers had six.
- Missing Mom / Disappeared Dad: Often because of death.
- Multigenerational Household: Fairly often, a family will have parents and grandparents under the same roof or in close enough proximity to be with the kids 24-7. Single mom Jency Williams even had help from her kids' great-grandparents.
- My Beloved Smother: A couple of the moms are like this, often because they feel their kids are growing up too fast. The Gormley-Brickley mother took this so far as to have her four-year-old twins still wearing diapers at night and drinking from bottles.
- New Media Are Evil: In a recent interview to promote the show, Jo blamed violent video games for the riots in London in August 2011. In one episode, she blamed video games for a child's behavior even though he didn't own a console and had no friends where he could've played video games.
- Jo even went so far as to create an experiment where kids would play different video games for an hour and then watch a newsreel of violent events and record their reaction. This experiment was heavily flawed, as Jo stated without any scientific evidence that the children who played a violent video game were almost immediately desensitized to violence, although if you were to take those children and pop in a real war zone, It's pretty obvious what their reactions would be. This video points out all the flaws in the supposed experiment.
- Popped up again with the Amouri family, but was subverted. The parents allowed their four-year-old daughter to listen to explicit songs on an MP3 player. After making clear that this was not okay, Jo suggested more appropriate music and applauded the parents for using it.
- No Export for You: Before coming to the U.S., Supernanny had at least four seasons in the U.K. A few of the U.K. episodes have been aired in America, but they're treated as if Jo is returning for a visit. The majority of U.K. episodes have not been aired in the U.S. and are only accessible through YouTube and select DVDs.
- Odd Name Out: Gianna De Mello is the only member of her family, including parents, whose name does not begin with D.
- The Larmer family: mom Judy, kids John, Justin, Jessica, and Joey...and dad, Ed.
- The Swift family: Jack, Josh, Max, Mia, and...Sean. However, Sean gets points because Sean Swift is an Alliterative Name.
- One Steve Limit: Commonly averted; a lot of families give their kids popular names. Names that fall under the trope include:
- An interesting case sometimes pops up when Jo meets a dad who's also named Joe.
- Parents as People: At least before Jo works her magic. Jo can also be quite sympathetic to stressed-out parents who want to do the best they can for their kids but are falling short due to extenuating circumstances, such as Dad the Veteran situations or situations where one parent is gone.
- Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Popped up with the Simmons family, who have two sets of twins, one of each sex. In the younger set, age 4, Parker wore blue in some scenes while his sister Sydney wore pink. However, this appears to be unintentional.
- Promotion to Parent: Happens a lot with older kids. Logan Costello, the oldest of ten, was expected to babysit all his younger siblings at the whim of his parents and act as a third dad. Melissa Baulisch was left with much of the responsibility for the little kids in her family because her parents were deaf and having a hard time with discipline. In the most egregious case, the oldest two Chapman girls called Jo in rather than the parents summoning her. Jo found that the girls had an insane babysitting and chore schedule. In fact, they were so stressed that the older of the two girls, Brittany passed out on camera.
- Eight-year-old Marli Prescott is perhaps the youngest example of this. She has six siblings, and on the submission tape, Mom is constantly heard saying, "Marli, could you..." (followed by some chore or favor).
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Jo is fairly calm about it, but she will hand these down to families who are particularly out of control. Parents who spank, wash their kids' mouths out with soap, or engage in similar types of discipline are likely to hear one of these speeches—and maybe more than one. Jo has also given this speech to older kids who are ungrateful or especially bratty.
- The Unfavorite: Happened quite a few times. This could be a case of outright favoritism or simply overlooking one child because of the bad behavior of another. Examples:
- The Wischmeyers, where nine-year-old Jared was both ignored because of, and blamed for, his four-year-old twin sisters' bad behavior.
- The Daniels. Twelve-year-old Halley is a generally good kid, but Jo finds that Mom overloads her with chores to "keep her out of trouble" because of unnamed "issues." Even worse, Halley's younger sister Alexus is allowed to bully her, to the point of spitting in her face, and Mom and Dad do nothing.
- The Mc Grath and Van Acker families. Their daughters, both named Emma, are loved, but overlooked because of their brothers' respective diabetes and constant shrieking/bad behavior.
- A mild case with the Tsironis family. Mom and Dad are so happy that two-year-old preemie twins Nicholas and Teddy are now healthy that they do not discipline them. They also ignore their older daughter Kate, to the point that she fakes foot cramps to get attention.
- When You Coming Home, Dad?: Jo has dealt with her share of workaholic parents, both moms and dads. Sometimes this even happens with stay-at-home moms, like the Amouri and Larmer mothers, who are so concerned with cleaning their homes that they don't actually spend time with their kids.