Just recently heard the news that The Ricki Lake Show was cancelled a couple of weeks back. As Nelson on The Simpsons might say: “Ha, Ha!” I know that sounds mean, but, now that the show has finally bit the dust — trust me, if you ever watched it, you knew it was inevitable — I can talk freely about what a bad experience actually being on The Ricki Lake Show was. Whew!
Last summer, one of Lake’s producers reached out to a bunch of the guys in my stay-at-home-dads Meetup Group. They were looking to do an in-depth show on the growing trend of SAHD’s. That sounded great to us, so, several of the guys responded to their email query. The next step was to fill out an application stating why we would make good guests on the show. Then came the phone interviews. Yes, I said interviews, plural. All totalled, I think Mrs. Yeti and myself were probably interviewed at least four or five times, a piece, by at least three different people. It was insane.
And while part of the problem was that Lake burned through producers like crazy (I think there were at least three producers hired and fired during the show’s mercifully short run!) and we had to be re-interviewed when the new team came onboard, the real problem was that no one wrote anything down. I’m not kidding, we had to give them the same information dozens of times. I was like: “Hello? Would it kill you to make a file for us on, oh, I don’t know, a computer, perhaps?”
Then we had to shoot a day-in-the-life video of Greta and I doing our thing. As with everything else they demanded along the way, the producers told us we needed to shoot our video and get it to them ASAP. “We needed it yesterday.” were their exact words. So, we busted our hump — actually, my brother busted his hump, we just went about our business while he taped us! — and got them a video in record time. The producer confirmed she got our video, said she loved it and then nothing. For weeks. No calls. No e-mails. Nothing.
Almost a month later, we got a call from a new producer who apparently got our name and contact information from some scribbled notes the former producer left in her office. “[Producer #1] said you guys were a cute couple and that I had to make sure and get you on the show.” Producer #2 said. Flattered, we agreed to move forward. Which meant, you guessed it, more phone interviews where we talked about the exact same stuff we’d talked about before.
Our hook all along was that I wanted to talk about the very real phenomenon of postpartum depression in men. I had been through it — hell, I still go through it! — and I know several of the SAHD’s I hang out with have felt the same way. And while I’m sure some women would call us crazy, I can tell you for a fact that anyone who takes care of a baby all day for any extended period of time feels crazy sometimes. And if they tell you they don’t, they’re lying. It’s the hardest job there is.
Anyway, that was what I wanted to talk about on the show. The isolation that I felt, the depression, the straight-up insanity of it all. And then I wanted to talk about how I got over it. The way meeting and hanging out with other dudes (sorry, ladies, I tried that route too and mostly, I just felt judged) who were in the exact same boat I was, finally lifted me out of the darkness and helped me feel better. Blogging about my experiences totally helped too. It still does!
So, that was our angle. We were the couple with the male postpartum depression. And while I always knew the chances of our story being trivialized or sensationalized on a show like Ricki Lake’s were high, part of me hoped we could actually help people. Or at the very least, help some other crazy shut-in SAHD know that he wasn’t totally alone. That was my hope at least.
What ended up happening was much less exciting. By the time we actually were given a date and time to show up for the taping our episode was called “Blended Families” and the totally random topics on our show were literally all over the place. There was a trash-talking stepmom who hated her stepson, a large group of children whose mom died and left them with their aunt to raise, the gay couple from Tori Spelling’s reality series and their bratty daughter, and then, in the last two segments of the show (which are always the shortest) the producers managed to shoehorn in the topic of SAHD’s. How blended families relate to SAHD’s is beyond me, but, that’s where we ended up.
And then, to add insult to injury, Mrs. Yeti and myself weren’t even allowed to sit onstage with the other SAHD’s. Instead, we were interviewed in the show’s closing seconds from the audience. If you knew how long they spent picking out our clothes (no, we were not allowed to wear our own clothes, crazy, huh?) the fact that you could barely see what we had on made absolutely no sense at all. What a waste of time and effort!
Another highly annoying thing is that they told us not to bring Greta to the taping, but the other two SAHD’s (the ones who got to actually sit on Ricki’s couch!) brought their kids onstage with them. Just kind of annoying.
So, while the first two SAHD’s showed their day-in-the-life videos (neither one of which held a candle to our rocking video, BTW), Mrs. Yeti and I were shuttled into our seats in the audience. And after the next “commercial break” Lake shoved her mic in our faces and interviewed us for maybe two or three minutes. It might have lasted longer had one of the SAHD’s onstage not interrupted me to say that he himself had never felt isolated or judged by SAHM’s. I was so blown away by his totally self-serving comments that I just kinda stood there looking stupid while he talked. But, inside, I was like: “Dude! You had your turn, shut the fuck up!” Grrr!
I checked out his blog later and can safely say that the dude is a first class asshole who gives daddy bloggers a seriously bad name. I mean, come on, man, I’ve got like two minutes to talk to Ricki. Why you gotta interrupt me? Total d-bag!
Luckily for me, the show had an actual doctor sitting in the front row who confirmed that male postpartum depression isn’t just real, but, actually something that several doctors have been studying. Ha! Put that in your blog and suck it, dude on stage! And then, with the clock ticking on the show, Ricki asked Mrs. Yeti if she thought I was a good Dad. Tearing up a bit, Mrs. Yeti replied: “Oh yes, he’s an excellent father!” It was very sweet, and, despite the fact that I was a giggly, sweaty mess, Mrs. Yeti looked absolutely gorgeous onscreen. Seriously, she came off great!
And just like that, the show ended and Lake literally bolted for the door. As far as I know, she never spoke off camera to any of the guests that day. Nice, huh? I understand ditching out on the studio audience, but, come on, would it have killed her to linger a little bit with us backstage? What a joke.
That said, everybody else behind the scenes was lovely. Our “handlers” were great and though the decor and snacks in the green room sucked ass (Three flavors of Pringles? Really?) we still had fun sitting in there eating them with my brother and sister-in-law. And, honestly, it was kinda cool having our names on the green room door even if that green room looked like a single dude’s apartment after a bad divorce. You know: couch, chair, coffee table, Pringles. So lame!
Lamer still was the fact that after all that rush-rush here, rush-rush there, our show didn’t air for another five months. Our episode aired on the Friday before the Christmas break. Yep, it was so bad that they totally buried it. In fact, to give you an idea of just how bad our episode was, Lake’s producers (who had changed AGAIN by the time our episode aired) played the show’s big, fancy Christmas episode the day before our episode. Wow, talk about a lump of coal for Christmas.
Oh, I almost forgot, Lake’s producers did try and do a full episode about SAHD’s later on in the show’s run. They even contacted our Meetup Group again looking for guests — I guess they forgot that most of us had already been interviewed for their show and that Mrs. Yeti and I had even appeared on it! But, this time, no one replied.
So, I repeat: “Ha ha!” Suck it, Ricki Lake…