What We Can Learn from ABC’s American Housewife

This spring, American Housewife finished up its third season on ABC. The show, created by Sarah Dunn, centers around Connecticut housewife Katie Otto (Katy Mixon). The series begins when Katie, her husband Greg (Diedrich Bader), and her three children Taylor (Meg Donnelly), Oliver (Daniel Dimaggio), and Anna-Kat (Julia Butters) move to Westport. This wealthy New England town throws Katie for a loop when she realises how different she is from the other mothers in the town. Through the show’s amusing hysterics and jocular nature it keeps viewers rolling on the floor with laughter. It also teaches us lessons never before taught from our television screen.

The show’s pilot in 2016 centers around Katie’s insecurity. In this episode, Katie tries to sway another woman of her size to move into the house across the street from hers to make her feel better. After persuading the woman to buy the house, Katie gets to know her a bit better and discovers that the woman is incredibly homophobic. This makes Katie change her mind about her new neighbour, and she recruits her friend Angela (Carly Hughes) to kiss her in front of her house. The woman hates it so much she retracts her decision and leaves Westport, leaving Katie to be as she says, “The second fattest housewife in Westport.” From this moment on Katie does nothing but embrace her differences. She begins to accept her self-given title.

Later in Season 1 Episode 21, the Ottos teach us about overcoming our fears and insecurities. In this episode, Anna-Kat has developed a fear of water so Katie tries to convince her to go swimming in the pool to overcome her aversion. However, Katie won’t go in the pool herself because she’s too insecure about how she looks in a bathing suit. After Anna-Kat’s stubbornness gets too much for her to handle, Katie makes a deal with Anna-Kat that she will wear a bathing suit to the public pool if Anna-Kat will jump in the water with her. The mother-daughter pair overcome their fears by doing the things they are most afraid of together.

Throughout the series, Katie and Greg struggle to keep their son Oliver grounded and less focused on money and materialism. In Season 1 Episode 11, Oliver tells his parents that he doesn’t want a birthday party because it will never live up to the over the top parties his classmates have. He is embarrassed that their house is an average home and not a million-dollar mansion. Greg comes up with the idea to make an Escape Room in their basement and and throw him a surprise party. During his party, Oliver lies to his friends about what his dad does for a living and makes up a story about a boat they don’t own. Katie and Greg find out, but instead of scolding Oliver, they let him decide for himself to tell his friends the truth. He quickly realises that his friends didn’t care in the first place, and that he is lucky to have parents like Greg and Katie because they were willing to throw him such a great birthday party. We learn the value of loyalty over money through Oliver’s experience; we also learn that Greg and Katie can plan a great party.

In the Season 2 finale, Katie puts together the perfect Spring Gala for the school. This leads to Katie’s decision to go back to work as a party planner. After ten years of having a stay at home mom, her family has to make some adjustments. In Season 3 Episode 1, titled “Mom Guilt,” Katie promises Anna-Kat she will be home to put her to bed, but ends up getting tied up at work with her client who happens to be another school mom. Her husband Greg ends up stepping in for the kids while she is gone and the pair figure out how to lean on each other so that they can both keep up at work and at home. This episode teaches us about the struggles of keeping a household afloat with two working parents.

In Season 3 Episode 11, Taylor wants to win back her boyfriend, Trip (Peyton Meyer), after breaking up with him in favor of her co-lead in the school musical. The family devises a plan to win him back at the musical’s opening night. Anna-Kat is put to the challenge of calling Trip and getting him to the school auditorium. Then she convinces him to stay by offering him his favorite candy, gummy worms. Oliver talks the kid in charge of the spotlight into changing the plan so the spotlight is on Trip. And lastly, Taylor serenades Trip during what is supposed to be her solo on stage. This episode is a valuable example of families working together as a team.

Finally, Katie Otto teaches us that even the best parents screw up sometimes. In Season 3 Episode 20, titled “Field Trippin,” Katie worries that she and Anna-Kat aren’t spending enough time together, so she decides to chaperone her school field trip to the petting zoo. She ends up ruining the field trip by overstepping as the chaperone and embarrassing Anna-Kat in front of her friends.

So far, the Otto family has taught us how to live without insecurities, face our fears, understand the value of love and loyalty, work as a team, and be a successful working parent. According to ABC, the Otto family will return with Season 4 this fall; I look forward to seeing what shenanigans are in store for us upon the return. Each character has something special to offer the show, and there is rarely a moment without a comical beat. I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t seen it; for those that want to catch up, seasons 1-3 are available for streaming on Hulu now.

 

by Blair Krassen

Blair lives in Philadelphia and is studying creative writing at the University of the Arts. She is a comedy fiction and screenwriter. Her favorite show is Charmed(the original) and her favorite movie is the Sandlot. She loves sitcoms and female comedians. You can follow her twitter @blairlyawake

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