NANNY 911….While I was on vacation I did a couple of things I don’t normally do. One of them was to catch an episode of Nanny 911, a Fox reality series in which British nannies (plus the usual crew of roving cameramen) are dispatched to dysfunctional families in order to impart a few days of tough love and sensible advice that will ? hopefully ? get each week’s featured household back under control.

At first, I thought that this was merely the latest slide down the slippery slope of revoltingly meanspirited reality shows. And without much doubt, it is indeed that. Watching husbands and wives and children all screaming at each other and acting like a ravening pack of spoiled brats for an hour is pretty unedifying stuff.

And yet….by the time the show was over I was partially won over. I have no idea whether the Fincks (this week’s family) will benefit in the long run from their week of professional nannying ? I suspect not, actually ? but you know what? “Nanny Deb’s” advice was pretty sensible. What’s more, the show reaches a lot of people who would never read a parenting book, and does so in a dramatic way that’s probably pretty effective. So even given all its sordid voyeurism, this is actually a show that might do some good.

I can hardly believe I wrote that. But there you go.

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