Review Of Super Nanny

By Edward Charkow

In August of 2006, a Scottish family began to seek legal advice claiming that the reality television series, Super Nanny, had distorted the image of their family in order to gain higher ratings for the television show.  Super Nanny herself, the British Jo Frost, was called in by the Docherty family to help organize their household, put the family on a daily schedule, and help train their rowdy, out of control children.  The episode, like many other episodes, featured the family's three young boys who kick, swear, punch and spit at their parents.  The parents were depicted in a similar fashion in the episode, revealing two out of control people who scream constantly and curse at each other and their young children.  After the show aired, the family claims that their neighborhood and community began shunning them because the reality show had depicted them as a dysfunctional family.  The parents claim, like several other parents who have called Jo Frost into their home, that the show was edited to make them look worse than they really were -- which is a typical complaint of people who participate in any type of reality program.  However, the Dochertys also admit that the family is functioning much better since Jo Frost departed their household.  The lawsuit is likely to be tossed out before it reaches litigation.

Super Nanny is filmed both the UK and the US, and has made nanny extraordinaire Jo Frost a household name.  Frost is a lifelong nanny who has worked for many wealthy families in the UK, and now can add “author” to her many credits, having recently published a book on child rearing.  Originally a British reality show, Super Nanny first aired in the UK in 2004.  Super Nanny remains an extremely popular show, drawing 3.1 million viewers to its premiere episode in 2006, though previous seasons drew nearly twice that amount.

The same premise is shown on both continents;  the show features Jo Frost arriving at a household that is usually in complete disarray, with at least two children running wild and screaming and the parents at their wit's end.  Frost has become known for her catch phrases “You have been very, very naughty" and "This behavior is totally unacceptable".  While maintaining a strict, no nonsense demeanor, Frost uses encouragement and positivity as her core techniques.  She assists the parents by helping them regain control in the household by using discipline techniques like the “naughty chair” for a highly effective time out period.  At first, many parents insist that her techniques will probably not work with their horribly-behaved and ill tempered children, but by the end of the show, they are always true believers in the Frost school of discipline.

The cameras return a month after filming without Frost to determine if she had a long term effect on the family.  The revisit shows a happy and connected family, all members smiling and telling the camera how much Jo Frost did for their family and for their own self respect.  The once-horrid children usually say simply “I love JoJo” or “JoJo made me good” -- and it takes a cynical person to disbelieve their sweet little faces and not smile at their decidedly non-naughty behavior.

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