I had a crappy week and Tyler Perry’s The Single Moms Club made it worse

single-moms-club-tyler perry

I had a bad week. Like, really bad. Parted ways with a beloved long-time client. My ex flaked out on three visits, leaving me in the lurch to find (and pay for) babysitters at the last minute, contend with disappointed kids, reschedule plans, miss out on exercise and feel generally overwhelmed and alone. Throw in some lousy weather and Apple AirPort wifi breakdown and momma was ready for the weekend. I was looking forward to a first date with a Brooklyn restaurateur who, per our phone conversations, was charming and fun and purred as he called me “Love” in his British accent. I also had high hopes for a Sunday night viewing of Tyler Perry’s The Single Moms Club with my SMILF Jen. I figured would be a guaranteed and much-needed giggle and sense of belonging to the universal struggles of single moms.

To add to my melancholy, the date was canceled as I was waiting at the bar, paying a sitter and sipping something called a Terra Alta that cost me $12 (um, I wore my push-up bra under my low-cut wrap-around dress that was supposed to compensate for that!). And the movie?

Nevermind that the writing was as flat as my tits. Forget that the jokes were sparse and barely elicited my few, forced chuckles. We’ll skip the fact the characters were flimsy and the plot weak as a Happy Hour cosmo.

The big disappointment that snowballed into actual insult was that there was barely a hint of the real struggles or triumphs of real-life single mothers.

Quick “plot” summary:

Five single moms, brought together by their derelict kids who attend the same elite middle school, become unlikely friends. Of these five, just one — Lytia, the stereotypical overweight, bawdy, black, low-income teenage parent with an ex and two older sons in jail — struggled financially: juggling her waitress job with mothering five kids, few child care options in her crappy neighborhood  and just no break.

The others include Jan, a single-mom-by-choice, career-obsessed celibate hard-ass publishing exec, and two stay-at-home moms suffering under the control of their exs’ alimony. The only one I could relate to was May, the newspaper reporter struggling to get her book published and raise a tween son whose heart was consistently broken by his absentee father. Aside from Lytia, all the moms had beautiful homes, plenty of time to sip wine in the middle of the day with their newfound BFFs and no pressing need for male company (though each developed a tepid romance by the film’s end).

In short, this movie did little to address the most pressing issue faced by single moms: Money and a lack of a dude.

Whether by way of divorce, choice or teenage hormones, single parents are always poorer than their married counterparts. Financial strain colors every single part of life: If you feel poor and especially fiscally vulnerable in your singledom, you feel as if you have fewer options. You are less likely to take financial risks, which means you are more likely to stay stuck in undesirable circumstances. And when you feel poor and don’t have support, it makes it harder to date — to find the time to go out to meet men, take time away from work and the kids, pay a babysitter and invest in a special wax downtown. And if you’re like me, when you’re not romantically, sexually, emotionally fulfilled, you live less of a life than if you were. You are more stressed and less of a mom and a professional and the whole equation suffers — including your bank account.

Then there are the exceptions. And there are so many exceptions! Hell, I fancy myself one! There are those women who find themselves strapped and alone and scared. And then they see the upside of risk. These single moms go back to school. They start businesses. They ask for that promotion and they get it! Maybe for the first time in their lives they find power and strength and it is delicious. These women, they don’t stop at work. These single moms start going to yoga and try a new hair color. They go out. They feel sexy again. They get laid and find love and find new, wonderful parts of themselves. They bring all this success into their children’s lives and the kids thrive and grow and are OK, despite it all. The whole family triumphs in ways no one could have expected — not even the women themselves.

We don’t see any of that in The Single Moms Club. OK, Jan gives an unsolicited book deal to May, who also lands Tyler Perry’s sweet and handsome character in an awkward and mostly invisible courtship. But the kept SAHM who worries about telling her remarried ex about her new (super-hot and adorable) boyfriend for fear he’ll cut her off? Her great triumph was to threaten said ex with court for more alimony (message to the ladies: your greatest asset is your round ass in a tight red dress and litigious inclinations). The overwhelmed SAHM, at her wits’ end caring for three kids in her gorgeous Arts and Crafts bungalow, bemoaning having to fire her fulltime housekeeper? Her ah-ha moment was finding ways to spend even more time with her pubescent daughter and curbing her infanticide fantasies. No mention of financial independence for that one! And Lytia? As far as we know, she’s still slinging hash at the local diner and hustling to find child care to keep her kids on the straight-and-narrow and out of the can. Why can’t her successful new friends help her find a better way?

A couple weeks ago Oprah helped her friend Perry promote the movie on her Lifeclass show, in which he said the takeaway is that single moms should support each other and form community. That’s cute. You know how men support each other? They give one another jobs, do business and encourage one another to have fun, meaningless sex.

Which is exactly what happens in real life with single moms.


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9 thoughts on “I had a crappy week and Tyler Perry’s The Single Moms Club made it worse

  1. Dear Emma,

    I fancy you an exception, too. I’m bummed you didn’t like the movie and I hope you have an amazing week this week.

    Your #1 Fan in Texas

    P.S. All single moms CAN take the world by storm, create an abundance of money, and find a new dude. Keep the faith, ladies!

  2. This post made me laugh out loud. Yes, I spelled it out. :-) Truth be told, I like words. Abbreviations confuse the shit out of me.

    I always have high hopes for these kinds of movies and then when I watch them, I often wish I would have stayed home in my flannel pajamas with a bottle of wine watching episodes of Vampire Diaries instead of sitting in a theater convincing myself I didn’t waste my money.

    1. Hi Kimberly! Like I said: I would likely have been more forgiving of the stereotypes, lousy single mom portrayals and lack of inspiration if I’d gotten one lousy belly laugh out of the investment. No dice.

  3. Boy, did I enjoy your review. I went to see the movie alone (none of my single friends could come). As I sat on the edge of my seat, in anticipation of watching what was sure to be one of the best movies about single-hood, with a bag of artificially buttered popcorn in my left hand and a large Cherry Coke (diet, of course) in my right, I couldn’t wait for the darn previews of other movies to end. The opening scene of Tyler Perry’s movie excited me. And then, as quickly as the excitement came, it went, like a balloon deflating. Stereotyped characters and situations moved in and through every scene. In the back of my mind I was hoping one thing: “Please, please, please don’t let all of these mothers end up ‘in love’ like all of Tyler’s single females. That would cheapen the important process of healing from break-ups, give the impression that a man is what you need to be complete, and take away from the important message of support.” Well, if you saw the movie you already know that each mother had a man. At the conclusion of the movie, I was disappointed that the need for community was not fully developed. In fact, it was contrived. Artificial. Insulting. Juvenile.

    I didn’t finish my popcorn or my soda. As I left the theater, I dropped both in the trash bin. I had had enough of the fake stuff.

    1. “As I left the theater, I dropped both in the trash bin. I had had enough of the fake stuff.” hahahah!! I hope you went out and bought yourself a nice steak and good glass of wine — and watched, oh, Bridesmaids or Terms of Endearment or SOMETHING? ANYTHING?!

  4. Hi Emma,

    Discovered you by reading your article on book publishing in Success magazine (April 2014). Figured I would take a look at your site.

    I’m so glad they you commented on Lytia’s character, because her situation and the lack of addressing it in the movie bothered me.

    All the influence these women had, you would have thought someone would have helped her with a plan to elevate her life and create better opportunities. That is the kind of support she really needed, as well as the other mom (name escapes me) who was being financially supported by her ex.

    I was very disappointed with the movie, felt it was mostly stereotypical and shallow. Them all having budding romances at the end, Seriously? I can’t.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

    1. Thanks Rhonda. I may have been more forgiving of all these issues if the movie had been funny or even ENJOYABLE. That was the real deal-breaker for me. Gah!

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