Katherine Ryan: Parental Guidance, review: the only real advice here? Get a nanny (or two)
If you are in the depths of parenting misery – a baby who won’t sleep, a toddler who acts up, or the double whammy of both at the same time, perhaps with the added bonus of trying to hold down a full-time job while you’re at it – then you could do worse than watch Katherine Ryan: Parental Guidance (W). Not because it has any useful advice, but because it will provide you with a few bleak laughs.
Ryan is a stand-up comedian and this series is ostensibly about her “meeting families who inspire me with their out-of-the-box parenting ideas”. First of these was Luisa Zissman, who once appeared on The Apprentice and now lives in a mansion with a stuffed horse in the living room. She has not one but two nannies, working on a rota, including Saturdays and Sundays. “I don’t suffer from mum guilt at all. I’m quite a selfish person,” she explained.
Ryan herself has a two-year-old son who still wakes for milk three times a night, and a seven-month-old baby, in addition to a teenage daughter. She has been breastfeeding for two years, is back to work on the stand-up circuit and is, understandably, tired. But she also has a nanny plus a stay-at-home husband, called Bobby, who wears the haunted look of a man who fears divorce in his future. He sleeps in one bedroom with the toddler, she sleeps with the baby.
The show is really an “At Home with the Ryans” reality TV affair, featuring the Canadian comedian’s brutally deadpan delivery. That makes it entertaining if you’re a Ryan fan – and she drops in that she gets “six million listeners a year” to her podcast – but also gives everything an air of being performed for the cameras. When Ryan invites no-nonsense nanny Brenda Hart to come over and talk about sleep training, you don’t believe they have any intention of hiring her.
If you’re not a fan, you might have less sympathy for a rich woman who doesn’t have a 9-5 job and can afford full-time help; there is something rather unpleasant about the way the Filipina nanny, Miriam, appears in shot while Ryan speaks about her but not to her.