Actor Hank Azaria, 49, wasn’t sure he wanted to have kids. He began to wonder why anyone would want to have children. “I’m not a children kind of person,” says Azaria, adding, “I didn’t particularly like myself as a child … Most of them are annoying.” So he set out to talk to famous friends and experts about kids. And then, during the filming of his documentary project he and his girlfriend, Katie Wright, found out they were going to have a baby.
The result is Fatherhood, a 12-part web series that will amuse you, delight you and possibly bring a tear to your eye. Best of all, you’ll feel good about your parenting choices and you might pick up a tip or two.
Azaria’s son, Hal, was born 10 weeks early in 2009. “You’re so grateful when the kid is healthy you’re like fine, up late, diapers, screaming in the house. Whatever, you’ll take that deal in a heartbeat,” says Azaria, amid heart-wrenching photos of his tiny son in the hospital, at home and eventually having a screaming fit in a car seat.
The series is edited perfectly to keep you mesmerized, whether listening to actor Willie Garson talk about losing his son Nathan on the subway or hearing from Mike Myers of Austin Power fame about being hit with a wooden spoon as a kid.
Parenting, says Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston, is “the one job we have with no pre-training. You just have to be there to do it. You just dive in. it’s a work in progress – an enjoyable work in progress.” And famed director Mike Nichols says: “There were thousands of things I not only thought I did wrong, but I did wrong.” Kevin Bacon explains his “1, 2, 3” form of discipline and mentions the many “phases” kids go through. Richard Kind humorously notes, “There are times I’ll say I’m leaving town because my children are acting too much like me.”
Hearing dads talk candidly about their mistakes and their experiences serve to make viewers realize there’s no one way to be a great parent. Some of them make keen observations, some of them share very personal ones.
But Azaria doesn’t just put famous friends in front of the camera. He talks to many experts who add to the mix, giving insight and advice into everything from coping with tantrums to how parents have changed over the years. Notes one of the experts: “Family meals – research after research keeps saying it’s one of the most valuable things we can do.” Another says, “A business person will say, ‘Tell me ONE thing I can do’” to be a good parent. And the answer is “Enjoy your child.”
I think you’ll enjoy this series. Presented in snippets that range from about 7 to 9 minutes, it’s easy to dip in and out. But I’m betting you’ll make time for it all. You can watch the series at Mom.me and at AOL.