Next week, Lifetime will premiere “Prank My Mom,” the newest reality prank show to exploit innocent victims at the hands of a network and bitter yet good-humored offspring. As the title makes explicitly clear, the victims are the mothers of said pranksters. In a sketch format, three mother-and-child pairs hash out a single prank in succession, from faked DUI traffic stops to marriages — including a shotgun wedding to a supposedly pregnant stripper and a proposal by a shady drug dealer — excuse me, “pharmaceutical salesman.” Good, wholesome family fun.
Appearing in front of a CGI background, Vivica A. Fox takes the place of Ashton Kusher in “Punk’d” as the show’s host, but stays clear from any of the action. She brings little to the show aside from generic sassy banter and corny jokes in between pranks in the style of “AFV,” without the audience. She was wise to distance herself from the show, but not wise enough to bail out completely. The pranksters, however, take any attention from Ms. Fox, with shoddy motives that would be perfectly acceptable to a 9th-grader…but the people all appear well into their twenties, at least.
Age doesn’t connote maturity, however, and rarely is this as clear as in the contestants’ motives behind pranking their moms. In the first episode, Stanley explains how much he hates making his bed:
“My mom is like Mary Poppins. Everything’s gotta be perfect, the pillows have to be in order, the bed sheets have to be fluffed…” and that, he says, is why he wants to prank his mom.
For Deandre, it’s the lack of privacy:
“She’s always taking my phone, reading my texts, and that has to stop.”
And for Briana in the second episode, it’s a lack of intelligence:
“My mom thinks I’m, like, dumb, kind of,” she says with an empty grin.
No conversation between an adult and his or her mother could ever solve such a disagreement, right? Deandre and Stanley simply must invite their mothers to an undisclosed location for a friend’s “birthday party,” which turns out to be a shotgun wedding with a pregnant stripper. The bride, priest and father of the bride are all actors who pretend to have forced the son into the deed.
At the end of it all, after an ex-lover barges in and breaks a fake bottle over the father-in-law’s head, and after several near heart attacks, comes the money moment. The priest makes a hearty announcement that it’s all a hidden camera TV show, prompting another “are-you-kidding-me” from the moms, and everything is fine.
The quick contrasts in mothers’ reactions, however, actually do beg a laugh or two. Seeing someone flip from horrified, angry and all kinds of negative emotions to a good-humored, laughing sucker is somewhat hilarious. But then again, it’s completely expected — this is a hidden camera show, after all. Victims have to flip their attitude fast for the cameras. At least that part goes right. Because as Fox says at the opening of the first show, “It’s okay, Mom, what’s the worst that could happen? Everything, that’s what!”
Was she talking about the fake DUI-stop prank or the show itself? Well, the moms seemed happy enough after learning their children weren’t drunk driving, so I guess the latter is the only option.