Modern Dads reality TV show featuring four stay-at-home dads with completely different circumstances debuts tonight on A&E.
The reality TV show Modern Dads debuts tonight(8/21/13) on A&E at 10:30/9:30 CST. The show features four stay-at-home dads who are buddies in Austin, Texas. It’s a show about guys being dads, simply enough. GMP contributor and blog-to-memoir author Adrian Kulp and his wife are producers of the show. A stay-at-home dad, Adrian battled the flu and two sick kids to answer a few questions about the show’s origins and direction.
GMP: It seems like an odd occurrence, four dads with kids of similar ages, all sahds in the same community. How were these dads brought together?
AK: I don’t know that it’s so odd anymore. It just so happens that Nathan (the new dad) and Sean (the stepdad) went to college together and through that relationship, the other guys eventually all became friends. I’ve been a stay-at-home dad for a little over three years now and I know that when I was making the transition out of the office and into the home, I had to reestablish my social circle a little bit, to find other guys in a similar situation. Not only did I find a good source of advice from some veteran dads, but comradery and friendship as well. It’s not much different with these dads in Austin.
GMP: How did the show come about?
AK: Let’s be honest, there have certainly been men over the years serving as their family’s primary caregiver, but perhaps not in such force as we’re seeing now. With the downturn in the economy and subsequent recession over the past few years, more men than women have been losing jobs (I don’t have the hard facts, but I’m pretty sure it’s like, 2 to 1), thus putting us at home taking on an enhanced role with our families. I don’t speak for the network, but it strikes me as a perfect time (30 years after the movie Mr. Mom showed us as a bunch of half-wits) to shed some light on the fact that dads are stepping up and kicking some ass.
GMP: What role has technology played in connecting the Modern Dad?
AK: The great part about our advances in technology and social media is that you don’t necessarily have to be a ‘blogger’ to be part of a network or group that shares similar interests. I’m in a few online parenting circles and they’ve been incredibly valuable to me. Instead of referring to some dry textbook about child development and behavior – I can flip through hundreds of personal stories that allow me see and understand what other kids Ava and Charlie’s age are doing and capable of and what I can potentially expect moving forward. AND THAT WE’RE NOT ALONE.
GMP: You and your wife are involved in the show: how is working with her? You’ve already ‘worked’ with her as a parent.
AK: This is true. My wife and I actually had an opportunity to work on a pilot a few years ago while she was an executive at Comedy Central and while I was an exec at Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison. On ‘Modern Dads‘, my wife served as an executive producer at Sirens Media and I’ve been a senior story producer from the pilot phase.
I have to say that my primary focus is always our kids, but I’ve been lucky enough to write my first book for Penguin and work on this show in the last year — it’s a pretty serious balancing act. I think I’m fortunate to have a partner that understands that while I love my children and love having the opportunity to spend my days with them, it’s not the easiest thing, especially when I’m also striving to maintain some form of professional identity. She’s incredibly supportive, but I’d be lying if I said that our commitments didn’t occasionally interfere with our personal time together.
GMP: You were an “unexpected” SAHD and in your memoir, you recount the ongoing adjustment period, which includes carving out a bit of your own space. It happens to be in your bathroom. You find comraderie with a group of stay-at-home moms. How does the show reflect parenting issues across gender? How would you identify them?
AK: When my wife and I had our first child, we lived in an apartment in Los Angeles and the only viable space for a nursery was unfortunately my home office, which became a casualty of the situation. It was my first experience in transitioning into being a parent. It may sound like a petty sacrifice now, but at the time, it upended my world a little bit. I did manage to sneak a few pieces of baseball memorabilia and toys into my bathroom though and did find a few minutes at the end of the day to retreat for some solace. In my book, I did mention that I tried to find time for myself and found support in a group of my buddies’ wives that were also primary caregivers.
One of the things we’ve tried to focus on in making Modern Dads is that while men and women may do things differently as parents, it doesn’t mean there’s a right way and a wrong way. Rick, Nathan, Sean and Stone represent a range of capable fathers who love and would do anything for their kids. The cast of Modern Dads didn’t need to go out of their way to prove their manhood – they’re men! I think these guys (much like me) are completely comfortable in their skin and their roles at home. They’re great dads and the simple truth is that men do it differently than women – those differences weren’t embellished, they naturally surface through our time together. Since women have predominantly been the caregivers for years, it’s interesting (and sometimes humorous) to see how we manage in our own way.
GMP: We have four guys hanging out it seems like they’re going to be like four guys hanging out. Men, like women, are different with their friends than they are with their spouses. How did you address this in terms of camera time?
AK: I don’t think we ever needed to strain to remind the audience that these are GUYS. Like you just said, ‘we have four guys hanging out’ and that’s exactly what it was. I can honestly tell you that when I’m alone with my guy friends, I certainly don’t talk like I’m out to dinner with my wife and her friends. Speaking from over ten years of experience in developing and producing TV, pilot episodes are always the most difficult to make… giving the audience a back story and conveying the chemistry of the cast on camera. This show finds its groove and is full of heart.