Mommy Mafia Misses an Opportunity

Mommy Mafia holds much promise. Laura Sweeney, an aspiring screenwriter at Writers Boot Camp, hatched the idea of a spoof of the overweaning moms, putting them in a campy mob-like setting in Brooklyn, where they go to great lengths to generate cash flow in order to stay home with their little ones. Sweeny funded the show through Kickstarter in 2010, drawing 30 backers to raise over $2,000.

The first four-minute episode, Stroller Envy, introduces three moms, Pippi, Stacy and Ruth, in a prison line up. They’re wondering if they have a knitting club in prison and how they went from “mommy group to most wanted.” Curious, no doubt.  Flash back to three months earlier. The trio, sitting on a stoop, jealously eye up a vixen mommy who sports a hot body and a $2,000 stroller. It’s a fun start, but the episode goes flat when it segues into a dream sequence that goes on way too long for a four minute program. Ruth goes back to work, where her kids appear in the copy room because they couldn’t afford day care, since, as one of the children says, “Daddy is under-employed after the housing  bubble burst.” Flash back to the mommies sitting on the steps of a Brooklyn townhouse, plotting to steal strollers and hock them on eBay. Apparently they do so, because the episode ends with the Mommy Mafia running down the street being chased by “that yoga bitch.”

Mommy Mafia is, above all, frustrating. The premise of the show — a spoof crime drama set up in baby-obsessed Brooklyn — is funny stuff. And parts of the opening episode are just that. It certainly beats the typical syrupy mom fare, like the recent HerSay, which revisits the tired mommy-talk format. Mommy Mafia, in that sense, is fresh. The problem is it doesn’t hold together. The opening episode — 10 in total are planned — felt more like a trailer than an cohesive program. Maybe that will change in future episodes. All series need to find their footing. It better because Mommy Mafia will lose its audience if it doesn’t.

But then, there might not be much to lose. Despite being featured in some Brooklyn blogs, Mommy Mafia has fewer than 2,000 views since being posted almost a month ago to YouTube. It has garnered only 20 likes. And despite a successful funding from Kickstarter, Sweeny and her writing partner haven’t gone back to the platform to fund their next episodes.

I haven’t given up hope yet on Mommy Mafia. The concept is too good, Sweeney’s writing is at time infectious, and Web video could use  a success story. But like any mom will tell her kid, the show has to work harder.

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