'Beverly Hills Nannies': Family-Friendly Reality TV Is Real Boring

Television Without Pity

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ABC Family launched "Beverly Hills Nannies" last night, and as expected, it fits with the family-friendly nature of the network... which means that while "Beverly Hills" is in the title, none of the shenanigans of the Real Housewives or the likes of Audrina are happening here. Or at least none of the public fights and embarrassing behavior is on display. Instead, the show is about well-dressed young men and women who have the job of being nanny to the rich (and sometimes famous) and how they occasionally have to pick up poop after animals or learn about vegan diets. It's all very innocuous and terribly dull.

The most transgressive behavior on this show is the nannies freely talking to each other and their employers about how much they are making and how much other people are making, mostly bitching that at $20 to $40 an hour, they are underpaid and unappreciated for all they do. One guy, Justin, seems to mostly change diapers while his stay-at-home boss sits and rests, and then he has to hold designer pooches and handbags while she does her shopping. He gripes that he is on the lower end of this pay scale, yet it's hard to feel sorry for him. It's also difficult not to want to reach through the television and smack him when he's trying on a baby's cashmere scarf and whining about how someone else who takes care of twins gets a fancy car to drive.

That's not to say that every reality shows needs to be focused on forced drama and bad behavior to be compelling. In fact, we're content watching "Breaking Pointe" or "American Pickers" or almost anything on the Travel, Animal, or Food networks that manages to show people doing interesting jobs without dipping into any salacious or controversial behavior. The key is that those series are still fun to watch and "Beverly Hills Nannies" isn't. And while we always enjoy a peek into how the other half lives, seeing these young entitled people spend more time talking about money than the children they care for leaves us cold.

The featured nannies seem to be led by Kristin, who ambitiously decides that she'd like to get her friends jobs by creating a nanny service, and to vet people by holding a cocktail party (we learn in the next episode that her friend who was tipsy during the party doesn't even like children but is interested in the nanny job anyway for the high wages). As we see even during the course of the premiere, there's a lot of turnover and many trial periods, which makes us worry for the children and their sense of stability, but the kids are largely absent from this show, as the pampered pets get the lion's share of attention.

So while it's not a bad series in the sense that bad behavior is on display, as in your typical "Jersey Shore" episode, it's a lousy show because it isn't engaging television. In fact, between this, the mediocre "Baby Daddy," and the entirely unfathomable "Bunheads," we're not sure what the heck is happening over at ABC Family this summer. Is there a reason it can't just make more shows like "Pretty Little Liars"?

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