I discussed Supernanny with a mother recently. She confessed that her real motivation to watch the program was that it made her feel that her situation with her own kids wasn’t all that bad. There apparently was some satisfaction in the fact that it was someone else’s kids who were biting and dropping the f-bomb. The nanny’s stern British wisdom was incidental.
This is a case of parental schadenfreude, or delight in the misery of others. Much like our perverse attraction to disaster movies, watching someone else’s child have the meltdown could be entertaining and potentially therapeutic.