Based on the popular British show with the same star, The Fairy Jobmother is not only best explained as The Supernanny of Employment, the idea accurately describes the format. Hayley Taylor steps into people’s homes, evaluates their lives, and helps them find work. In some sense, it’s as simple as that, but if you’re familiar with similar shows, you’re well aware that things are never that easy.
In the opening episode we meet a couple who are in dire straits due to their unemployment. With eviction looming, two adorable kids, and no prospects, it’s up to Hayley to try and get them on some solid ground. Of course, finding jobs isn’t easy, especially when you aren’t sure what possibilities are open to you, and just getting a job rarely solves any bigger picture problems.
Whether it’s a makeover, an attitude adjustment, interview skills, or generally a kick in the pants, Hayley Taylor gets to work doing whatever it might take to turn people’s lives around, and get them into the workforce.
While I am undoubtedly not the target audience for this show, it ought to be easy to get me hooked. Something about similar efforts works for me, and even if in some cases it falls into a guilty pleasure category, I’m still watching. I want to like this show, and while I don’t exactly dislike it, there’s something odd about the overall feel. I’m not sure that it isn’t down to the premiere episode’s recipients of the Jobmother treatment, so I’m reserving judgment for the time being.
The odd position I find myself in is one in which I don’t feel I have to give too much leeway when it comes to the totality of experience I get from the premiere episode. I didn’t pick it, and there are surely other episodes in the can. Worse, this is a show that has been on already, albeit in a different incarnation on (I believe) BBC4. Someone ought to know how things work.
You see, the people in the opening episode: have been unemployed since 2007 and 2005, are on a lot of assistance, have two kids, and their apartment is a sty, largely because they simply don’t do anything all day… much less “actively seek employment.”
Now, that may make things sound worse than they are (for the show as entertainment), because even from a less than cheery perspective, helping to get these people working is a hell of a positive. But, it’s hard to get behind them when you’re watching, and a show like this needs that sort of connection if it wants people to keep tuning in.
Still, the show works the potential appeal as much as anything, and I suspect fans of similar shows will give it a chance for at least a few episodes to see how well things play out, and if the stories of those involved improve. Then again, there’s always the “public service” plus at work, because the lessons and ideas could certainly help people. Of course, this remains a theoretical benefit of the show, because (much like the case of The Supernanny) anyone who doesn’t already know the things related on the show aren’t clever enough to watch it.
It will come down mostly to the audience’s ability to play along with Hayley, and she comes over well enough. I’m not sure she’s jumping to the top of anyone’s list of TV personalities, but she gets the job done. Time will tell, but it is one of those shows that’s just crazy enough to work, and already has, just don’t look too closely at why you’re watching it.
Check out some videos and an interview with Hayley Taylor below.
Hayley Taylor Q & A Interview
While you were living and working with these families, was the anything that you learned that surprised you that you hadn’t anticipated?
H. Taylor That actual thing I think that hit me the most was the amount of debt that some of the families were in. That was the overriding thing that hit me more than anything else have. They’ve obviously gotten themselves into situations where it’s not easy to get out of. Bills aren’t being paid. They’re struggling to try and manage and pay the …, etc. I think I would say it was the debt. The debt was the overriding thing that struck me most.
Where did the families that you helped— How were they located? Were did they come from?
H. Taylor Studio Lambert, they sent out a casting call for families, families that weren’t employed to see if we could help them, who wanted to come forward. We have a research team also. We make sure that everything is … support wise for those families that confer with and then we look through the families and we see who need it the most.
With so much reality television on the air these days, what will help a show like the Fairy Jobmother stand apart from other reality based series?
H. Taylor I think the answer to that would be that we don’t just sort of deal with the unemployment. We go back and deal with everything that sort of caused the general feelings of depression and low self esteem and low self confidence and address absolutely every issue. I think that’s the thing that makes Fairy Jobmother stand apart because with a lot of documentary and reality programs, what you see is what you get. What we’re trying to do is make something that has a lasting impression, a lasting affect on the families that we work with.
What has been the most rewarding part for you personally working on the show?
H. Taylor The most rewarding part is meeting the families. They are so nice. They are so accommodating. They really want to move forward. They really want to accept the help that’s being offered. I just feel so privileged to have been in a position where I could share in their lives, be in their home, have them accept me like they do. I have learned so much from them.
Now in what ways has the economy impacted your job as a career specialist and how you approach direction you give to people?
H. Taylor I would say it’s made me see so much more hurt than I’ve ever seen before … debt issues. I find I’m having to signpost people a lot more to specific areas because obviously I’m not a debt counselor. I’m not somebody that councils on divorce. I am somebody that helps them move forward in different ways towards employment and take a grasp of their own life. I think I would say that’s what I’ve seen the most.
Can you talk about the relationship between emotional health and finances and how that played a part with the families?
H. Taylor I would say emotions run very high. It was always at the point we moved into the family finances. It tended to be a lot of the portion in blame for the situation that the families found themselves in and that happened frequently. A lot of depression occurs more frequently because of the financial worries that are present. I would say that was the overriding part of that.
I read in your biography that you pursued work in employment training after your husband was laid off from his job. Did you end up helping him gain employment again?
H. Taylor It’s really funny you should ask that question because, yes, I did. I did help him. We saw an advertisement for the position that he’s held now for the last ten years. I persuaded him to apply for it. He thought it was beyond his capabilities. I said, “No, you can. You can do that. It’s within your skill set.” He went for the interview and he didn’t actually get the job. I was thinking, “This can’t be right. This can’t be right.” Then two weeks later, they contacted him and they said, “We made the wrong decision. We chose the wrong person. Would you still be prepared to accept the position?” Therefore he got that job and he’s been there ten years.
What do you find is the biggest stumbling block for people who are trying to get back on their feet?
H. Taylor I would say the biggest stumbling block is a lack of self belief, a belief that they can move forward, a belief that they can do opportunities that are out there. They lack a lot of self confidence, have low self esteem. The fact that they become unemployed has really knocked them in so many ways, particularly emotionally.
Given that, what is the most important thing that you teach them, so that they can move forward on their own after you’ve gone away?
H. Taylor I would say that I give them the tools and they learn from me how to use them. Those tools are things that hopefully, they will carry on through life. They are ways of feeling good about themselves, of feeling confident, of being able to communicate with people and fundamental things that affect you for the rest of your life. I’ve had many mentors in my life and people that I’ve taken little pieces from and aspired to be like. I hope that they can get a little bit of that from me and carry that forward.
So I would say giving them the tools. I don’t actually do anything for them. They do it themselves with the tools I have given them.
I’m wondering because very few people ever achieve a 100% success rate. What is your success rate? Do you follow up with people that haven’t initially been successful after you’ve left? What kind of program do you offer for that?
H. Taylor What I would say is that, yes, I do keep in touch with all the people that I’ve worked with. I keep in touch with them as soon as filming is finished. Obviously, I don’t do it while I’m still filming because I need to focus on the families that I’m filming with. Afterwards, I do keep in touch with them. I do keep them motivated and that’s the way that I follow the work that I do because I think it’s very, very important that when you step into somebody’s life like that and you try to help them move forward, that you don’t just drop them and leave them because it’s not about that. It’s about moving someone forward long term emotionally.
My initial success rate: It’s never 100% like it isn’t for anybody. I would say about that I have a high success rate. Figure wise, I don’t know what I would put that as, but I do have a high success rate. I feel that it is very important to accept within myself that I can’t always help everyone. There is an extent that they need to help themselves. I said to an earlier blogger, I give them the tools and teach them how to use them. Then it’s for them to take onus from themselves with the tools that you know have been given and to be able to move forward that way.