Women from Yemassee, S.C., walk to the train in the new Lifetime series,… (Gina Nocero, Lifetime Entertainment )
"The Week the Women Went," which premieres Tuesday on Lifetime and strips a tiny South Carolina town of its adult female citizens for seven days — not all of them, probably, but a lot of them — describes itself repeatedly as a "social experiment": a "groundbreaking social experiment," "a social experiment of biblical proportions."
"I'm really excited about this whole social experiment," says one young woman, on board with the program.
As for being "groundbreaking," it is a remake of a BBC series already franchised elsewhere. As for the "biblical proportions," that is a funny way to describe a social experiment, though I suppose you could call creating the world or flooding it or turning a city's main waterway to blood social experiments of a kind. But the only experiment actually being done here is the ongoing one of determining just how long people will watch this sort of thing. That is an experiment with no end in sight.
(The Oprah-backed "Lovetown, USA," which sends two relationship coaches to a small Georgia town to help everybody get along and premieres Sunday on OWN — and which, like this series, is produced by BBC Worldwide — also describes itself as a "social experiment." But, you know.)
That narrator Jeff Foxworthy works usually as a stand-up comic suggests the enterprise is not meant to be taken wholly seriously, the melodramatic gravity of the presentation aside. When the words "devastating news" are used to describe men having to ready their daughters for a beauty pageant, I cannot help but picture writers sniggering behind their hands.
There is a social point here, of course: If more men were more used to taking care of their kids and the household chores — not all the scenarios here revolve around that point, but most do — there would be only the normal amount of drama in the absence of their wives and girlfriends and mothers.
Yet some of these men are quite happy to get the chance to spend more time at home, and they are happy that their wives, removed for the duration to a Florida island resort, will get a break from it. (Though coming attractions suggest it will not be all dips in the pool and drinks with umbrellas.) And surely some participating households must have run too well for the filmmakers to want to include. But I have not seen that data.
This couple has never been apart; that young man is suddenly in charge of his girlfriend's three children. ("I'm a 24-year-old guy — what do I know about disciplining a 12-year-old-girl?") A self-described mama's boy plans to propose to his girlfriend, but his mother declares herself "not ready to let him go. He's 21 years old. He's just now legal to buy a beer.... I do everything for him, except I don't wash him. [If] he wanted me to, that might be another story." She is kidding, possibly, though perhaps I say that only because I want her to be.
You will see that neither logic nor Daddy's scared, scary face can stop a child from melting down when she misses her mother. You will note that there is nothing more pointless than instructing someone to apologize "and mean it." You will marvel at a little girl who likes her caffeine, and gets it: "Daddy, I'm going to play," she says. "Just don't mess with my coffee." She then attacks one doll with another yelling, "You lied! You lied to me!"
Her parents have discussed switching her to decaf: "She's crazy when she's on the real stuff," says her father.
'The Week the Women Went'
When: 10 p.m. Tuesday
Rating: TV-PG-DL (may be unsuitable for young children with advisories for suggestive dialogue and coarse language)
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