Perhaps the biggest news of Viacom’s TCA session was the unveiling of a doc about Miley Cyrus as she works on a new album (fall premiere). Cleverly, that news was wedged between other announcements, lest it dominate. In other news, year-old NickMom will be entering the original, scripted comedy space with “Instant Mom” (fall premiere), featuring a blended family. Tia Mowry-Hardict plays the instant mother of the title. The party-girl character becomes a matriarch when she marries an older, divorced man (Michael Boatman), who has 3 children, a teen and two youngsters. Clips showed the Instant Mom trying to toggle between being a cool friend to the teen daughter and disciplining her about partying on a school night. Adding to the hijinks is the redoubtable Sheryl Lee Ralph as Mowry-Hardict’s mother, who enjoys watching her daughter struggle with motherhood just as she had to do when her daughter was young. The net and cast believe the series will have a wide appeal and perhaps push Hollywood to make shows featuring black families. “This show has people who happen to be black,” Ralph said, noting there’s little color on TV presently. Instant also is one of the few shows filmed in front of an audience. “I like that because it reminds me of [my first show] “Sister Sister,” “Mowry-Hardict said. “An audience gives you more energy and unpredictability…you never really know what they will react to” until you do the show, Boatman added. “An audience makes you honest and work harder,” exec prod Aaron Kaplan said. When there’s no laugh track, the audience won’t laugh if the jokes aren’t funny enough, that makes us work harder, Kaplan added.
One of the more pleasant developments in cable recently has been the spate of serious subjects MTV has tackled, including the Internet shenanigans in “Catfish: The TV Show.” Add to that a one-hour doc called “Generation Cryo” (premiere date TBD), which follows 17-year-old Breeanna, who was conceived via an anonymous sperm donor. Raised by two mothers, Breeanna now wants to find her biological father and has sought the help of Donor Sibling Registry, a site dedicated to connecting donor families. Helping Breeanna are some of her 15 half-siblings. Besides gaining health information, “we don’t want anything from [the donor]… we refer to him as a donor, not father…we just want some closure,” said Jonah, one of Breeanna’s half sibs. At least one of the half sibs doesn’t want to meet the donor. MTV programming chief Susanne Daniels said the net will provide counseling to the cast should it be needed. Counselors also are provided to Catfish participants, Daniels added.
Adding to the MTV reality slate in ’14 will be “Nurses” (working title), which will follow a group of young, telegenic nurses who travel the country working in hospitals who hire them for month-long stretches. During their off-hours, the nurses get to explore the various parts of the country where they’re working. The cast and exec prod Mark Cronin emphasized the series will be a responsible look at a nurse’s work and off-hours life. Yet a clip reel seemed to show quite a bit of bikini-clad women and six-pack he-men frolicking on beaches and rocking in clubs. To be fair, there were plenty of hospital scenes, too. When questioned, Cronin said “if we do our jobs right” the split between work and play on the series will be “50-50.” We’ll see. – MTV announced renewals of “Teen Wolf,” “Snooki & JWOW” and “Awkward.”