Last Night’s TV – True Stories: Nursery University

by Lynn Connolly

nursery university

This show might also have been entitled, ‘How To Earn A Lot Of Money: Exploit The Ambitious And Deluded’

The latest offering of the Channel 4 True Stories strand was made by Marc H. Simon and Matthew Makar who documented the bizarre and uber competitive world of elite nursery places in New York.

Nursery University followed the stories of five families, all of whom were positively desperate to get their toddlers into most expensive pre-schools in the city. And the hoops that they had to jump through were positively ludicrous, but due to the high demand, and the equally high cost, kindergarten bosses can pick and choose as they please which kids will make it in and which won’t.

On hand to help the parents of the prospective candidates – all of whom were blissfully unaware of the fact that their parents, in the main, are nuttier than squirrel poo and had more money than sense – are Application Consultants who, for a mere $4,000, will “groom” parents and toddlers with the aim of giving them the best chance of being accepted into one of the cream-of-the-crop nursery schools.

There were some signs of sanity however in that some parents interviewed eschewed the belief that money can indeed buy everything and happily posited that bog standard pre-schools are every bit as good as those for which you must hand over an arm, a leg and anything else demanded of you.

And frankly, based on the scenes we witnessed last night of the selection process of the Mandell School by a snooty Gabrielle Rowe, I’d rather have trained baboons teaching Montessori to my child.

She very obnoxiously turned her doubtless paid for nose up at some of the parents’ resumes, sniffing, “Oh, a bar tender…” and of a child, she said, “This is the one where the child had to be given a lollipop to cease and desist her temper tantrum.”

A temper tantrum from a toddler? Heaven forefend! Clearly Ms Rowe wanted only the subdued automaton offspring of the Stepford Wives for Mandell, and only then if their parents were something-in-the-city types. Horrid little woman. I suspect that in a previous incarnation, she may well have been King Herod.

All in all, this was entertaining to watch because let’s face it, it’s always fun to laugh at someone else’s stupidity, but it had a darker subtext and it was the children I felt most sorry for.

If their parents are that ambitious for them when they’re barely out of nappies, I can foresee a life of endless pressure on those children to achieve, at the expense of pretty much everything else that should be in their childhoods, such as fun and playing, unless it’s with something from the Early Learning Center or it involves flashcards of course.

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.