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Series / Supernanny

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A Reality TV show produced by Ricochet which originated in the United Kingdom. It's about Jo Frost helping parents who are struggling with their children's behavior. The UK version aired on Channel 4 from 2004-2012, and the US version on ABC from 2005-2011.

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.

In May of 2019, eight years after the U.S. version ended its run, it was announced that the show would be seeing a U.S.-based revival, set to air on Lifetime rather than ABC, which debuted on New Year's Eve of 2019. Watch the launch trailer here.

See also It's Me or the Dog for the canine equivalent (which is also produced by Ricochet), and My Cat from Hell for the feline equivalent.

This show provides examples of:

  • Abusive Offspring: Numerous episodes shows the parents being afraid of their own children as their tantrums and bad behavior worsens; fortunately, Jo always manages to set things right when she shows up.
    • In the case of the Baulisch family, the younger children are extremely abusive to their deaf parents and hearing elder sister. The younger children take full advantage of the fact their parents can't hear and make their elder sister's life a living hell before Jo arrives.
  • 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." 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 "bitch", "whore", and "slut". The Supernanny wiki states that Phil, the father, has been arrested a number of times since the show aired for domestic violence.
    • 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, cooks and eats them."
    • The Mann family falls under this before Jo's intervention; Mom Melissa is especially guilty. They spank their children forcefully with wooden spoons, wooden forks, and their hands. Melissa explains their church advocates this, and constantly says, "Trust and obey" before spanking a child (while simultaneously saying "I forgive you" and spanking more). Melissa also has some disturbing things to say about Naomi in particular, such as, "I want to smack her across the mouth" and "I don't want her in my house."
    • In one of her Spin-Off series, Jo actually called CPS on the Spivey family after the camera footage showed the father appearing to beat one of his children (who has special needs) with a belt. The actual discipline took place off-camera, but the belt is seen beforehand and the child can be heard screaming.
  • 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).
    • The Jeans parents call their oldest daughter Andra "Andy" and at one point "Andy-Pandy".
    • A few families add the "-y" suffix to their children's names; for example, Andrea Weston calling her baby son Sean "Seanny" and Blythe Newsome calling her toddler son Finn "Finny".
    • Jo likes it when kids call her by the nickname "Jo-Jo".
  • Alcoholic Parent: One episode has Jo shouting at a father for having a couple of beers during the day.
  • 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 (the eldest child, a singleton).
    • The Kerns family: Brandon, Bryce, and Brenna. They get bonus points because the parents are Shannon and Shawn.
    • A few children have this with their surnames, such as Jessie Jeans and Sean Swift.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Several examples of this in families, but one notable example in "The Young Family" is Shermie and Shelby to 13-year old Dylan. They constantly invade his room and touch his things, and he feels like he has to be a parent to them over his actual parents.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Jo is good at saying exactly the right thing to say to get through to oblivious or resistant parents.
  • Asian and Nerdy: The parents of the Duan-Ahn 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.
  • Aside Glance: Often, Jo will softly speak directly to the audience while in a family's home. A lot of it happens during observation. Sometimes she simply gives the camera a look that clearly says "You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!"
  • Becoming the Mask: In a particularly dark and sad example, one five-year-old boy featured on the Extreme Parental Guidance spin-off spent most of his time dressed up in superhero costumes, and hinted at genuinely believing he had superpowers. The reason for this? His younger sister was diagnosed with a brain disorder called Rett Syndrome, and the news devastated his parents so much that they flat-out refused to talk to him for several months at a time and found it easier for him to lapse into fantasy. As a result, the boy believed that one day, he'd 'fix' his sister's brain, and began to believe he had superpowers. This affected his lifestyle, with him falling behind at school as he couldn't listen and concentrate without lapsing into fantasyland.
  • Big Brother Bully: There are bound to be episodes where the older siblings are abusive towards their younger siblings; for example, Andrew Weston constantly acts aggressive towards his baby brother Sean.
  • Blowing a Raspberry: The eldest Bowersock child does this when her mother tells her that she should be embarrassed of her messy room.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: The younger counterparts, either boys or girls, to the Bratty Teenage Daughter trope.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Sometimes. Actually averted with several, such as the teenage Chapman girls and fourteen-year-old Morgan Davis.
  • Bribed With Food: The Federicos of Las Vegas were notorious for this, handing out cookies and candy for every example of good behavior their kids exhibited. A few other families fall into this too.
  • Broken Record: Jo lampshades this trope when discussing Dylan Van Acker's constant demands for a diaper (he's over three years old and refuses to be potty-trained). Jo repeats "Diaper, diaper, diaper" in the confessional, in a somewhat robotic fashion.
  • Buffy Speak: Some little kids justifiably use words like "baba", "binky", or "paci" (pacifier). Because they have small children, the parents use these as well. However, there are legitimately confusing cases of Buffy Speak. For example, little Dominic Federico whined that he was hurt in the episode featuring his family (he basically wanted attention). Dad takes him in to Mom and says Dominic wants a "hurt prize", or translated, a piece of candy meant to pacify. Jo's look says it all: The heck?
  • The Bully: The children who often act out at home will also usually pick on their friends as well should they happen to be over at their house. A good example of this is "The Weston Family", where Andrew picks on Anaya by drawing on her paper, then yelling at her when she tries to build with blocks.
  • 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 find it acceptable. 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 on which Jo immediately puts the kibosh.
  • But Now I Must Go: Jo leaves a family after about a week at minimum, once they're capable of continuing her techniques and maintaining control.
  • Camera Abuse: There have been instances where a child from at least two families—one from the Cooke family, and the other from the McKinney family—have punched the camera in anger.
  • Censorship by Spelling: Jo once did this with the word "crap," when telling beleaguered wife Kate Johnson to stop taking excessive criticism from her husband. At the time, they were in a coffee shop full of little kids, with one in time-out nearby.
  • Company Cross References: Some families have Disney movies seen in the background of their house. ABC, which aired Supernanny in the US, is owned by Disney.
    • In "The Young Family" even though the TV is blurred out, we can see that Shelby is watching Lilo & Stitch.
    • In "The Gorbea Family" Adam watches A Goofy Movie instead of going to bed.
  • 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 carry on, confident that it will.
  • Cool Old Guy/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.
    • Charlie Woods from the UK seasons age 2, was another offender.
    • Reese Atkinson has apparently screamed so much she damaged her vocal chords.
  • Dad the Veteran: Jo has helped a couple of families with dads in the service, notably the Merrills and McMillions.
    • Tom Silva is preparing for a deployment to Iraq for up to a year and a half and while much of the focus is to help his wife handle their blended family of seven children by herself, Jo also encouraged him and his oldest daughter Meghan to work on their relationship. He gave her a pocket watch that belonged to his grandfather so that she could have something of strong sentimental value to think about him.
  • Darker and Edgier: The other 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 issues, a history of abuse, or other problems. Some older kids are downright violent with family members. Social issues tend to be deeper and more controversial as well; a later 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.
  • Dartboard of Hate: Played with in "The Davis Family". To get Phil, the father, to better understand his emotionally abusive language towards his three youngest daughters, Maddison, Tiffany, and Tori, Jo makes him throw darts at pictures of them. Because Phil really does love his his daughters deep down, he tries not to hit their pictures with the darts.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • In the Bixley family episode, the parents are reprimanded for punishing their son for being the picky eater by giving him a fast-food meal (which he happily gobbled up), even though, prior to Jo's intervention, he was in the habit of screaming in fear of it until he threw up.
    • Jo often deals with parents who engage in this, whether they're physically or verbally abusive, they give discipline that doesn't fit the issue at hand, or misuse Jo's techniques. One example is the Benton mom, who got so mad at one of her boys that she started giving him time-outs lasting as long as an hour.
    • In one episode, a preschooler threatens to kill his own mother over a popsicle.
    • In one of her Spin-Off series, the Spivey dad hits his special-needs son with a belt all because he took his charger without asking.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Many of the sterner parents act like this. It's usually the dad, but there have been a couple of 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.
  • Driven to Suicide: One episode has a 6-year-old with ADHD saying that he wants to "kill [himself] with a knife". Of course, it's an empty threat, but still...
  • Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off!: See Abusive Parents; an especially bad example is 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, Meghann Cooke 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 played with this trope. 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. 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." It's a bit rich, considering he and his siblings were already loaded down with activities; if his schedule wasn't so busy, he might not have even thought to need the tutor.
  • Enfant Terrible: The children, while disrespectful and aggressive, are almost always downplayed examples. In some cases, the parents are so overwhelmed that they think their kids are this, and say so. In others, however, there have been children who acted out so much that they even shocked Jo.
    • 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.
    • Meghann Cooke and Maddie Porter were two nine-year-old girls who could out-tantrum kids a third their age, and they did.
    • Four-year-old Cameron Smith-Clarke was beyond out of control. Allowed near-complete command of his family due to the unfortunate loss of his younger brother Josh to cot death, Cameron violently attacked other children, his parents, and his surviving brother Mackenzie, who was only a year old. His father spent the episode with one of his hands in a cast, and it's heavily implied Cameron broke that hand. To add insult to injury, the boy attacked his father's cast at one point in the episode, and the pain briefly forced him to leave the house. Cameron also holds the record for the longest tantrum seen on the show, with his fit lasting four and an half hours. All of this came about simply due to the grief of his parents. If there ever was a true Enfant Terrible in the series, Cameron definitely held that crown; he is also considered to be the show's most aggressive child in both the UK and the US as his anger was so strong to the point that Jo thinks that naughty spots won't work on him.
    • The kids of the Nitti family are, in general, exceptionally violent, but special mention goes to 10-year-old eldest sibling Darren. In the submission reel, he is shown stabbing one of his younger brothers with a thumbtack.
  • Even the Subtitler Is Stumped: In one episode, a child's unintelligible speech is rendered as "(what?)" in the subtitles. note 
  • Family Theme Naming: Sometimes, as with the Froebrichs, all of whose children had E names (Emerson, Emmett, Emma Jo), and a couple of others.
    • Sometimes the kids have rhyming names, or similar names, as in the case of Jordan and Jayden Hallenbeck.
    • The Peterfreund Family has a rather humorous example. As Keith, the dad, is a flight attendant, his and Sonya's four sons are all named for things found in an airplane; Jett (jet plane), Gage (gauge), Trey (table tray), and Myles (miles).
  • Good Stepmother: Stacie Fager regards her stepchildren, Sarah and Andrew, as her own and doesn't hesitate to call them "her kids." It's especially heartwarming since they haven't had any contact with their biological mother in over a year.
  • Go to Your Room!: Defied. Jo discourages having children do time-out in their bedrooms, as it is the place where they sleep and play.
  • Groin Attack: One episode has a boy kicking his dad in the privates.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Quite a few of the kids and parents are shown to have volcanic tempers, which can lead to great physical/emotional harm to one or more parties.
  • 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.
  • Hates Their Parent: Some children feel this way about one or both of their parents; sometimes with justifiable reason, and other times without. One noticeable case has Maryann Agate confess how she feels about her own mother in the Reflection Room:
    Maryann: I don't like my mum. She's definitely horrible. She's selfish and horrible. She never lets me do nothing. She just tells me off. Putting her face straight up to me, and looking into my eyes, and saying "I hate you".
  • Henpecked Husband: Deconstructed; "The Cooke Family" makes it clear that Paul being afraid of his wife Denise's temper has resulted in poor communication and boundaries set in the family.
  • Iconic Outfit: Jo's purple jacket and skirt, paired with glasses and a hair bun, which she wears on her observation days when she meets families.
  • Innocent Swearing: Subverted big-time. Some of these kids, most shockingly the little ones, not only swear like sailors, 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, and occasionally used by parents to refer to Jo in front of their kids. Jo also introduces herself to younger kids as "Jo-Jo".
  • Injured Limb Episode:
    • In "The Tsironis Family", Nicholas spends the episode with his right leg in a cast due to his twin brother Teddy pushing him out of their crib.
    • In "The Cantoni Family", Mom Nina had her arm in a sling, as she was recovering from a car accident.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Averted. When Jo meets the Baulisch parents, both of whom are deaf, she makes clear that deafness should not affect the effort and quality of parenting. In the cases where a family has a disabled child, Jo respects modifications, but otherwise treats aforementioned child like any other kid.
  • Ironic Name: The name "Blythe" means happy, and Blythe Newsome is anything but; she had to move, she had a divorce, AND lost her nanny to cancer.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Wendy Agate went a little overboard by calling her bratty daughter, Maryann, an "arsehole" but Maryann had been misbehaving a little too much prior to that point.
    • In "The Mann Family", five-year-old Naomi calls her mother, Melissa nasty and rude when Melissa tries to get her to take a nap, and at the end of the day, when Melissa asks her if she trusts her, Naomi says she doesn't, and that she's never going to. While Naomi is a defiant child who rules the house with her screaming and tantrums, Melissa resorts to spanking her children with her hands and wooden spoons when they don't obey her. Her spanking Naomi only proves Naomi's point and gives her a reason not to trust her. Not helping Melissa's case is that she says disturbing things about Naomi, such as "I want to smack her across the mouth" and "I don't want her in my house."
  • Kids Are Cruel: Often to their siblings and their parents.
  • Kiddie Kid: A lot of the children who misbehave act much younger than their biological ages. One example is Travis Uva, whose mother still wiped him in the bathroom despite him being seven years old.
    • Inverted with a few kids who act more mature than their ages, like the Chapman daughters, Logan Haines, and Kate Tsironis. This is especially egregious with Kate, who is only four herself. Jo tells the camera that when talking to Kate, she felt like she was talking to a teen.
  • Magical Nanny: In every aspect except truly being magical. 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.
  • Momma's Boy: It's not always a boy, but some of the kids are quite attached to their mothers, to the point that they don't use life skills they are perfectly capable of executing. An egregious example is seven-year-old Travis Uva, who expected his mother to wipe his bottom every time he went to the toilet.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: A couple of times. The Costellos had ten kids (and the mom wanted two more!); the Millers had six. Often the case in blended families.
  • Missing Mom/Disappeared Dad: Often because of death.
  • A Mistake Is Born: "The Fernandez Family" has Desiree revealing that her mother replied to her with "Your whole life is an accident!" at least once in response to her having a minor screwup such as accidentally dropping a cup of water.
  • Mooning: In "The Young Family" Shelby does this to her mother at one point while getting up from her time-out.
  • 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.
  • Music/Age Dissonance: In "The Amouri Family", it is revealed that 4-year-old Hayley listens to gangster rap on her mom's MP3 player. When Jo finds out, this is one of the things she confronts the parents, Tamara and Michael about.
  • 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.
  • Never My Fault:
    • Lisa Daniels blamed Jo (who had just brought in family rules) for 2-year-old daughter Brynleigh's temper tantrum even though it was because she had not ever disciplined her previously. Even as Jo flat out told her why it happened, she didn't try to discipline Brynleigh and broke down.
    • In "The Uva Family", Rosemarie blames her two sons, Trevor and Travis learning swear words on television shows and other people, when it's made very clear that she swears around them. Jo is not fooled one bit.
  • 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 whose homes he could visit to play 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 saying this was not okay, Jo suggested more appropriate music and applauded the parents for using it.
  • Odd Name Out:
    • Gianna DeMello 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:
    • Sean
    • Emma
    • Madison
    • Dylan
    • An interesting case sometimes pops up when Jo meets a dad with the homophone name of Joe.
  • Parental Neglect: There are some parents on the show that are so wrapped up in their kid's bad behavior that they end up neglecting the more well behaved children.
  • 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.
  • Picky Eater: Jo had to deal with one occasionally. Three-year-old Dylan Van Acker was so picky an eater that he had anemia as a result.
    • Brandon Bixley is a noteworthy example. Due to having gastric flu when he was younger, he developed a fear of eating and would only eat chips while when served any other food, he would throw a screaming fit.
    • The British miniseries Extreme Parental Guidance had some, well, extreme versions of this trope, appearing at least three times. Nine-year-old Max, for instance, would only eat custard cream cookies and had apparently never had a hot meal in his life. Four-year-old Kieran was so picky that she threw up every time she ate anything, and her mother resorted to Force Feeding just to get her to take in minimum calories.
  • 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.
  • Point-and-Laugh Show: Has this sometimes, with parents who are Extreme Doormats and let their children hit and slap them, and parents who are the opposite and punish their children so much that it doesn't mean anything anymore.
  • Premature Birth Drama: In "The Tsironis Family", Bob and Elizabeth reveal in the submission reel that their three-year-old twin sons, Teddy and Nicholas were born at 23 weeks gestation, and the doctors didn't think the twins had a good chance of survival. It's because Bob and Elizabeth are happy that Teddy and Nicholas are healthy now that they find it hard to discipline them for their bad behavior.
  • Prima Donna Director: Meghann is this in the Cooke family, often yelling at her sisters and parents when her show didn't go the way she planned.
  • Product Displacement: Happens in plenty of episodes as products part of popular brands such as foods, beverages, toys, etc. are blurred.
  • Promotion to Parent: Happens a lot, with older kids being called upon to help wrangle younger siblings for their overwhelmed parents.
    • 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; he was so stressed that he confided to Jo he'd had a panic attack.
    • 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 teenage Chapman girls called Jo for help, rather than the parents summoning her. Jo found that the girls had a ridiculous schedule. They were expected to do a mountain of chores, raise their three little brothers, and homeschool themselves - and their father didn't think they were doing enough! In fact, they were so stressed that the older of the two girls, Brittany, actually 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 a request for her to do some favor of chore).
  • Pushover Parents: Numerous episodes show parents constantly giving into their childrens demands in fear of their temper tantrums. To list a few;
    • In "The Tsironis Family", three-year-old twins Teddy and Nicholas hit bite their parents, Bob and Elizabeth, and their older sister, Kate, throw their toys, and throw their food on the floor at dinner time. However, Bob and Elizabeth find it hard to discipline the twins for their bad behavior because they were born prematurely. Jo has to help Bob and Elizabeth discipline the twins by reminding them that they are healthy now and need to be disciplined for their bad behavior in the (then)-present day. Elizabeth catches on quickly, but Bob finds it more difficult because he doesn't want the twins to scream and cry.
    • In "The Daniels Family", Lisa and Steve are far too hard on Halley, but far too lenient when it comes to disciplining their other children. A good example is when Alexus continues to play in the pool despite having been grounded from using it. Lisa doesn't even try to get her out, instead hoping for Steve to help her when he returns. Jo naturally calls Lisa and Steve out for their laziness during the parents' meeting.
    • In "The Van Acker Family", Kevin and Jessica end up giving into Dylan's demands for junk food and diapers, which ultimately results in him being anemic and not potty-trained. Jo tells Kevin and Jessica to stop being pushovers, and decides to help them discipline Dylan and not give into his demands.
  • "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.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Sometimes, the kids can have very foul mouths, and in most cases their parents really aren't that much better off either.
  • Soap Punishment: Holly Tafoya used a squirt bottle of soap to discipline her son for telling his brother to "smell his own buttcrack". Jo was horrified, and tried to convince Holly that she was invoking Disproportionate Retribution and poisoning the boy. Sadly, the mother's ego was too over-inflated, and she saw it as a way to command the respect she thinks she deserves, causing Jo and the mother to cuss each other out. And her poor husband sits there suffering. It really has to be seen to be believed.
  • Staircase Tumble: "The Phelps Family" has a toddler falling down the stairs due to there being no safety gates installed.
  • Sweet Tooth: Dylan in the Van Acker family had this, developing such an extreme dependence on sweets he got anemia.
  • Tantrum Throwing: Common for misbehaving children. For example, in "The Young Family" Shelby throws books all over the floor twice while being placed in time-out, and at one point throws a doll at her mother.
  • Toilet Training Plot:
    • In "The Van Acker Family", Jo helps Jessica and Kevin potty-train Dylan, who does everything in his power to avoid using the potty and wearing big-boy underwear.
    • In "The Evans Family", Jo helps Gary potty-train Dylan. It is revealed in that episode that Gary's wife, Jennifer, had potty-trained Michael and Sean before she died, and because Gary was not a part of their potty-training, he isn't sure how to potty-train Dylan.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Throughout the episodes, it is eventually seen how Jo's support makes the kids and any less-than-pleasant parents so much kinder than they were shown in the beginning.
  • Trapped at the Dinner Table: In "The Van Acker Family", three-year-old Dylan is anemic due in part to being a picky eater. When Jo helps Kevin and Jessica enforce discipline, they serve him a dinner of chicken and peas because they are rich in iron, and refuse to let him leave the table until he eats four pieces of chicken and two peas. Dylan throws a huge fit and makes excuses to avoid having to eat his dinner.
  • 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, with the twins regularly psychologically wearing him down to the point of tears.
    • 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 McGrath and Van Acker families. Their daughters, both named Emma, are loved, but overlooked because of their brothers' respective diabetes and constant shrieking/bad behavior.
    • In the Minyon family, fairly well-behaved son Frank Patrick is ignored in favor of his bratty younger sister Skyler. Frank Sr., the father, calls Skyler "Daddy's little princess" and says that she can do no wrong, but treats his son rather poorly.
    • 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.
    • Madison Colier is treated as such by her stepfather who babies his biological sons but regularly invades Madison's privacy and doesn't reward her when she deserved one.
  • Vacation Episode: Some episodes in the "Beyond The Naughty Step" sub-series involve whichever family Jo visited going on holiday.
  • Very Special Episode: The Merrill family takes a departure from the usual formula when Jo helps two of the adopted children manage their PTSD from the experiences they suffered in their home country.
  • Wedgie: In "The Costello Family", Chaslyn gives her little brother Corban a wedgie.
  • 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. She has also had the occasional family with a parent deployed in the military.
  • Wicked Stepfather: Phil Davis is emotionally and physically abusive and verbally belittles his stepdaughter Morgan to the point where she's in tears. He's not much better to his biological daughters either.
    • Jason Colier mistreats his stepdaughter Madison constantly from invading her privacy on the submission reel to not rewarding her when she deserved it.



Tyler pushes his little sister right off the scooter.

How well does it match the trope?

3.14 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / BigBrotherBully

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