When you think about it, it’s actually kind of a genius way to bring housewives into the digital age.

Web video, which was once relegated to merely uploading footage of Junior’s school play onto YouTube, is now a viable form of entertainment by moms, for moms. Maybe it sounds a little dippy, but, believe me In the MotherHood, which is a branded series sponsored Sprint and Suave (actually the line is “conceived by Suave and Sprint” – get it? – a pregnancy reference. Ha!), is a pretty smart concept. After all, who buys more stuff than mom?

MSN’s and MindShare’s original web-based sitcom premiered its second season last week, with the introduction of mom author Jenny McCarthy, who joins returning MotherHood stars, TV vet Leah Remini (King of Queens) and comedienne Chelsea Handler (Reno 911), in a series that McCarthy says “perfectly encapsulates these comical situations that only another mom would understand.”

The web series, which had 5.5 million viewers last season, is inspired by real-life stories from moms who upload their ideas to the MSN site (McCarthy hasn’t yet submitted any anecdotes on the happiness or horrors of parenting after being a Playboy Playmate of the Year, but we still got a whole season ahead of us). The ideas are voted upon by other members of the MotherHood community and the best are polished up by fancy Hollywood writers and shot for the series. As a reward for submitting a winning idea, the “moms” are flown to attend a taping.

Erika Nardini, MSN’s Senior Director of Branded Entertainment and Experiences, says the thing that makes this concept so compelling is that “these are every-day stories from real-life moms turned into content with very high production values.”

###To give you a sense of the kind of ideas that are submitted and translated into high-quality shorts, Season 2’s opener, “Valentine’s Day: Just Shoot Me, Cupid!” shows the three main characters, Heather (Handler), her sister Kelly (McCarthy) and friend Kim (Remini), dishing over pedicures on Valentine’s Day. In flashback vignettes, we witness Kelly in a dressing room, squeezing into too-small pants, while her little daughter crawls into the next stall. As you may imagine, hilarity ensues. Meanwhile,Remini reminisces about her recent V-Day when she had to cancel plans because her daughter’s devil-child visitor destroyed her sexy red dress – among other atrocities.

While these plotlines may sound less than interesting, and even though some of the material is a retread of 100 lame American sitcoms, the show is very well done. McCarthy’s overly-campy performance, along with Handler’s deadpan deliveries, play with the genre is a self-referential and refreshing way.

And what’s more, In the MotherHood takes the banality of the mommy stories and turns them into entertainment. For example, it makes the obnoxiously “perfect” mom, Kelly, seem like the most odious of creatures (in the trailer, she mistakes Remini’s character for “the help” and expresses gratitude when she learns that the help, in fact, speaks English), and shows how the run-of-the-millplaydate with the Spawn of Satan can actually have really annoying real-life consequences.

The most notable thing about In the MotherHood is its multi-platform approach to building the show and its community. MSN has created a web community that is far more slick and robust than your average “Mommy Message Board.” In addition to the forum where moms can chat and vote, the site has polls, games, recipes and activities, plus destinations for the three stars where you can read blogs, watch interviews and ask questions. And truth be told, based on the number of posts in the message boards and the whopping amount of viewers last season, the ladies seem to be eating this stuff up.

This is not MSN’s first foray into original programming. Among the other highlights of MSN’s branded entertainment is a show with Craig Robinson (The Office) called Mr. Robinson’s Driving School (produced with programming giants, Reveille), and also a cooking show titled Chef to the Rescue, starring Iron Chef Cat Cora and sponsored by Morning Star. But, yeah, it’s no Cookin with Coolio .
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