When Catherine Reitman yelled “wrap” at the last shot of the last episode of the final season of her comedy series “Workin’ Moms” last September, she received a special going-away gift bestowed upon all victorious team leaders: a Gatorade shower. It was a well-deserved dousy, because what she’s accomplished over the past five years is arguably even rarer than a Super Bowl win: She created, wrote, and starred in a homegrown CBC sitcom that – thanks to a 2019 Netflix acquisition – a large, loyal following and critical acclaim on both sides of the border.
But as a soaked Catherine reaffirmed in her street speech (which can be seen on her Instagram), “Workin’ Moms” was a comedy born out of a moment of sadness. “I had a baby boy nine years ago,” she said, “and I didn’t feel like myself anymore. And (husband/co-star Philip Sternberg and I) really struggled to find content that represented that — that showed how (messed up) having kids can be. Now, nearly a decade later, the “Workin’ Moms” saga comes to an end in the wake of another difficult and transformative time in her life.
Last February, Catherine’s father, Ivan – the cinematic mastermind behind “Meatballs,” “Twins” and the “Ghostbusters” franchise – passed away at the age of 75. 3) initially allowed her to get through the pain, but Catherine admits that the moment the filming ended, the sadness overflowed. “My dad was really formative, and he was very involved in setting up the show with me, and he was so helpful and such an incredible mentor,” she says. “To wrap this up without being able to look him in the eye and say, ‘Daddy, I did it!’ is really painful.”
The effect of that absence is all the more acute considering that Catherine’s breakout success with “Workin’ Moms” happened right here in the same town where her father began his career in the ’70s. Though Catherine was born and raised in Los Angeles, her family’s deep local roots practically grant honorary citizen status. incorporating local restaurants, businesses and landmarks into scenes and interstitial montages.
“This was the place that gave my grandparents hope after they escaped the Holocaust,” she says. “Toronto opened its doors to them, and then it gave my dad his chance. So when I returned to Toronto to start my career, I had no idea how the city can give so much to the people who live there. It’s a really extraordinary place that opens a lot of doors for you, so I’m really lucky to have spent the last decade there exploring what I can do creatively.
While the end of “Workin’ Moms” means a return to Los Angeles for now, Catherine still expects Toronto to be part of her future. After all, earlier this year, the older of her two sons enjoyed his first summer at White Pine (the sleepover camp in Haliburton, Ont. where his grandfather shot “Meatballs”), planting the seeds for an annual pilgrimage. It also remains to be seen how long Rosedale-based Catherine can last out west without easy access to her beloved matcha lattes from Pilot Coffee Roasters in Leslieville, or rotisserie chicken from Bernhardt’s in Dovercourt. But now that she’s spending more time on the second half of the “Workin’ Moms” equation these days, she’s thinking about her ideal Sunday on the town.
On the road in the morning
“Usually I cook French toast or pancakes for the boys. It’s the ultimate working-mom overcompensation: I wake up and try to make the most elaborate sugary breakfast I can for the two of them. Once they’ve jumped on the sugar, let’s walk the dogs around the neighborhood. And then I always go jogging. I usually take the Beltline from Chorley Park – it’s so beautiful especially in the summer when all the trees meet above you and you’re in this canopy. Everyone is there with their dog and stroller, and I kind of hear myself thinking.
The afternoon siesta
We’re not big brunchers. The idea of queuing up for brunch, after working the hours I do, just sounds like more work. So I cook a lot. I was lucky enough to live within walking distance of our Summerhill Market so I took the kids there and they each got to pick out a snack and I would pick out some things to cook. We would come back to do some serious cooking and a nap while the kids can watch TV in the afternoon.
“Philip and I love PAI for Thai food. It’s an absolute favorite at our house. We do takeout – we’re big homebody on the weekends. So we eat dinner at home and try to introduce the kids to one of the movies we grew up with — you know, fun 80s or 90s movies that are appropriate for kids, like “Back to the Future.” Or “Short Circuit” – that’s what they liked. My boys are nine and six, and they are both magnanimous and sensitive. I accidentally showed them ‘Austin Powers’ once, and my big man said in the middle of it, ‘Mommy, this movie is totally inappropriate!’”
“On Sunday night I spent over four hours memorizing lines for the week because I have tons of words to say on the show. So while the kids and Phil were watching TV or sleeping, I spent a few hours walking around my little office, memorizing rules. I know it’s not the sexiest Sunday, but I went into Monday with no fear!”
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