Let’s talk about the Cut’s ‘The Fleishman Effect’ article about rich grindset moms

The Cut released a new thinkpiece this week, and it’s been a talking point among the social media intelligentsia. The article? “The Fleishman Effect: In a city of Rachels and Libbys, the FX show has some New York moms worried they’re the ones in trouble.” Basically, affluent – perhaps even downright wealthy – women in New York feel especially exposed since Fleishman Is In Trouble streamed on Hulu. The miniseries is based on the book by Taffy Brodesser-Akner, and the whole thing is apparently THE talking point among a particular set of working mothers in Manhattan and Brooklyn. These are older Millennials, Xennials and young Gen-Xers who bought into Rise and Grind Culture, who believe that if they hustle hard enough, they can afford that three-bedroom co-op with a terrace, or they can get their children into the “perfect” nursery school. You can read the full piece here.

People have been discussing it all week, as I said. There are some bold takes and some unkind comments, honestly. While I don’t find these rich women sympathetic, I do find them sad and I do think they’re deserving of some compassion. Like, they were challenged by the all-too-real themes of Fleishman – class, ambition, aging, grinding without enjoyment. I wanted to excerpt a little bit:

Throwing money at problems: “Money is the fix for anything here,” says Paige, 40, who cringes as she tells me about the consultant she and her husband hired to help their 5-year-old get into a private kindergarten next year. “I’m like, Are we crazy? Am I doing this? We are two decent human beings, we are on boards, we are community leaders, and we are hiring someone to draft and edit our thank-you letters and to tell us to hold the door open on school tours? It’s just like, In what world is this normal? IN WHAT WORLD?” They’ve also hired a tutor and enrolled their child in Russian math—a trend now among preschool parents who’ve heard that the old Soviet method might give their children a leg up.

Beth in the suburbs: Beth, also 39 and in the suburbs, finds herself constantly asking her husband, “How do we get back to the city?” The math feels impossible. Even with a combined household income of $500,000, the New York life she wants for her family feels out of reach. “My dream life would be to live in Brooklyn and send my daughter to Saint Ann’s, but the reality of my life is I live in the suburbs and haven’t taken a day off in two years. I get up at 6 a.m., and I work until she wakes up, then I do breakfast and get her ready, then the nanny comes, I work all day, I relieve the nanny, and then get back on my computer and work until midnight after my daughter goes to sleep. I do that every day,” she says. “And it’s still not enough.” ‘

Beth is miserable: Since leaving New York, Beth has found herself in tears at least once a week. She makes $300,000 a year—more than she’s ever earned in her life—but she’s running out of minutes in the day to squeeze out more dollars. “How do I make the $700,000 that I’m going to need to send her to private school or do the renovation in the attic so I can turn it into the master suite so I can have a tub and so I can have one thing I enjoy in my life?” she says. Her takeaway from the show: “Both avenues are sh-t. You can stay in New York and climb, climb, climb and never get where you need to go and give yourself a nervous breakdown, or you can move to the suburbs and be like, Who the f–k are these pod people? Neither seems great. Is the secret to it all that we have to just choose a lane and embrace it?”

[From The Cut]

Someone commented that many of these women’s problems would be solved by simply sending their kids to public school. I agree? The whole thing of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to send your children to “the best” nursery schools and elementary schools is so f–king idiotic. Maybe – MAYBE – I would understand spending the money on a fancy private high school, but not private the whole way. I also agreed with all of the sentiments of… just move. If you’re grinding away without enjoyment, try a different f–king city. Jesus.

But really, there are larger problems – when did people in New York get so provincial? Why are they acting like these struggles are completely new? The problem isn’t that women in their 40s are experiencing some new dilemma of work-life-hustle-competitive-parenting, it’s that they fell into the exact same f–king traps as several generations of women before them.

— Brandon (@blgtylr) February 7, 2023

— Sarah Thankam Mathews (@smathewss) February 7, 2023

— Lydia Kiesling (@lydiakiesling) February 6, 2023

Photos courtesy of Fleishman/Hulu.

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