Labor of Love: Grade the Premiere!

Labor of Love: Grade the Premiere!

Kristy Katzmann is 41, divorced and wanting to start a family. But instead of visiting a sperm bank or making an arrangement with a platonic friend, she’s going to spend the next several weeks winnowing down a group of eligible fertile bachelors until she’s chosen the perfect person with whom to make a baby.

Welcome to Labor of Love, which sounds like one of Jack Donnaghy’s made-up TV shows but is an actual reality series that premiered Thursday on Fox.

In a moment, we’ll want to hear what you thought about Kristy and her passel of potential papas. But first, a quick recap:

As the premiere kicks off, we meet Kristy, a Chicago woman who got married at 37 but filed for divorce six months later. “All the sacrificing I did, all the hard work, why did I do it?” she says, already in tears before the episode hits the three-minute mark. But she’s prepared to become a mom on her own, and a visit with her reproductive specialist — who promises her that her fertility is “better than your chronological age” — lets us know that that’s still a possibility.

So off she jets to Atlanta, where production puts her up in a gorgeous and huge house. Pretty soon, Sex and the City‘s Kristin Davis is at her door, offering what she says is peach pie but is really an excuse to discuss why, exactly, Kristy’s not trying to do this all the traditional way. Our girl explains that dating is hard, because men either think she’s too old to have children or doesn’t want them at all — otherwise, wouldn’t she have had them by now? Anywhooo, Kristin tells Kristy to get ready, because she’s about to meet all the guys who’ve signed up to be sires!

When she arrives at the soiree, she becomes acquainted with 15 men. They are:

* Marcus, 39, an anesthesiologist
* Jason, 38, a flooring-business owner
* Matt, 44, a former professional wrestler
* Alan, 39, a writer from South Africa
* Trent, 36, a tennis instructor who refers to himself as “the woman whisperer” and seems really preoccupied with the fact that he’s the last male of his family’s line
* Stewart, 40, CEO of a wealth-management company
* Angelo, 39, a firefighter
* Phillip, 38, a medical technician
* Tali, 46, an attorney
* Keith, 38, a gym owner who essentially shows up waving a red flag when he says, “I can be explosive. I can be hot sometimes, but I’m quick to every emotion. The women who like me like me because I’m intense.”
* Gary, 38, owner of a company that makes baseball bats
* Walker, 41, a funeral director who “100 percent” has a fear of dying alone
* Kyle, 38, a sales and marketing director who is very, very tall
* Mario, 40, an optician
* Budge, 44, a creative director who announces “I’m a conservative man with morals” and eschews cocktails at the meet-n-greet

When Kristy arrives, all of the guys want time with her, but only a few of them get it before Kristin summons them all to the driveway. Then waiters pass out specimen cups, and Kristin informs the dudes that the show needs a sperm sample from everyone. “I did not see this coming, no pun intended,” Matt says, and HEY MATT? MAKE THE DOUBLE ENTENDRES AROUND HERE.

I’m going to skip over the part where Kristin asks the guys whether they’ve toggled their own joysticks lately — in the name of science, of course, because sperm collection apparently works best when there’s a bit of a build-up — and only about half of them raise their hands. Yeah, OK. Then the men step into a “mobile collection center” (three at a time, each in their own room), with Tali going first. “Wish me luck, sweetheart,” he says to Kristy on his way in, giving her a kiss on the cheek. Ew. Kristy, Red Sharpie him right now! Everyone goes, even Budge, who was initially resistant but who explains in an interview that he changed his mind and “this drill is gonna get a little messy.” WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN? Did I mention that Jason is slowly getting really drunk? Please take note, because that will become important later.

“The fact that all of these guys were willing to do this test in front of me? I’m pretty convinced they’re here for the right reasons,” Kristy says later. That… is a very interesting interpretation of what happened, mama, but sure. Anyway, everyone gathers again and Kristy’s fertility specialist, Dr. Kaplan, shows up to award Alan a literal trophy for the highest sperm count among the prospective dads. “As a doctor, it takes a lot to have a kid. More than your sperm count,” Marcus the anesthesiologist huffs in an interview segment.

Kristy goes home. So do the guys. Turns out, their houses are directly across from each other. What are the chances?! Inside, Jason keeps drinking and winds up getting ushered to the bathroom by Mario, where he pukes. So sexy! Though on Mario’s part, being able to figure out exactly when someone is going to throw up and then get them to the toilet in time to avoid major cleanup is next-level Dad-ing. Kristy, pick Mario now! The next morning, a hungover Jason and Stewart discuss his overdoing it the previous night (or maybe nights? the editing is confusing here). “Maybe I’m not comfortable with who I am,” Jason says in an interview, which is a LOT of introspection for someone whose main objective was pounding the brewskis not 24 hours prior.

The next event is a barbecue in the houses’ shared yard. I find these “mind if I steal you for a bit?” interactions so cringey, so here are the takeaways: Alan accidentally calls Kristy “Cindy,” but not to her face. Jason makes a much better impression when he’s sober. Tali deflects most of her questions in a way that I think he thinks is working, but it’s totally not. Phillip brings her moon rocks and seems really nervous. At the end of the evening, Kristy says the guys who were clear about what they wanted — like Stewart, Trent and Matt — were the most impressive.

And that brings us to the Who Gets To Stay and Who Has to Leave? portion of our evening. At Kristy’s house, she and … Wait a minute. I just want to properly relay how intrigued I am by her hair in this scene. It’s very “Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, only she’s undercover as an ’80s receptionist at a high-end law firm, and then someone takes a Glamour Shot of the whole thing.” But I digress. The men watch on a screen in their house as Kristy finalizes her decision on a screen in hers: Stewart, Tali, Phillip and Jason wind up in the We Need to Talk Box, which means one of them is going home.

Ultimately, Kristy tells Phillip that they’re not “on the same timeline” and bids him farewell. She lets Stewart know that she appreciates him, and essentially that putting him into the We Need to Talk box was a fakeout: She likes him a lot. And she lets Jason explain that his nerves got to him that first night, but he hasn’t had a drink since, so she says OK and sends him back to the house with the other guys… where he downs a flute of sparkling wine like he’s being timed. Just know this: Budge does not approve.

 

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