Mannies Return After Four-Year Absence

Male nannies are the "hot new thing" -- at least among the nation's reporters, who have lately produced a crop of thinly-reported trend-chasing pieces on the subject.

According to’s Michael Y. Park yesterday, male nannies (aka, mannies) are the “hot new thing” — there is a “sudden craze” for them. Indeed, Parks reported, since a strapping young man was recently snapped by the paparazzi pushing Britney Spears’ infant son in a stroller — “even though Spears and [the young man’s] mother insist he’s more of a bodyguard than a nanny” — “the nation’s seemingly gone gaga over the idea of buff babysitters.”

Or, at least, the nation’s reporters have — and have, in their crazed enthusiasm, produced a crop of thinly-reported trend-chasing pieces (and, in one case, a first-person tell-all).

Here’s a sampling of the recent mass of manny coverage, largely inspired by those sightings of Britney’s burly bodyguard:

May 19, Boston Herald headline: “Manny Nanny; Guys get into the tot-care business.”

June 8, New York Post headline: “The Manny Diaries; Like Britney’s New Guy, I Was a Male Nanny.”

June 8, New York Daily News headline: “It’s Jerry Poppins! He’s sweet, he’s sensitive, and he loves your kids. For New Yorkers, the manny is a must.”

June 9, Baltimore Sun headline: “It’s His Prerogative: Md. Man Works for Britney, reportedly as a ‘Manny.’” Lede: “They call him Perry Poppins.”

June 13, NBC’s Today Show, Campbell Brown: “What the heck is a manny? Well, it’s a male nanny … Here in the U.S. mannies are becoming more and more popular. So say goodbye to Mary Poppins, say hello to Harry Poppins … It used to be you could only find one on TV, but today the male nanny is taking the child care world by storm.” (This morning, Brown spent four minutes answering a similarly-phrased and similarly-critical question — “What the heck is a himbo anyway?” Turns out, “He’s a male bimbo. He’s a himbo. A guy with good looks who is sort of superficial and unintelligent.” Reported Brown: “… the trend is to have these guys as arm candy for some of the hot, Hollywood superstars.”)

June 14, CNN’s A.J. Hammer: “And moving on to the male nanny, or manny. It’s not so ridiculous anymore; it’s finally come out of professional obscurity thanks to Britney Spears. The pop star recently fired her female help and hired a manny to look after her son, Sean Preston. And wouldn’t you know, just a couple of weeks later, the idea of a male nanny is actually getting more and more popular?”

June 18, the New York Daily News polled a handful of men and women on the street about “how [they] feel about mannies” and whether they would hire one.

So where, you are by now no doubt wondering, is the New York Times Styles section’s manny masterpiece? Hasn’t Styles noticed all these Perry, Jerry, and Harry Poppinses “taking the child care world by storm?”

Well, yes. Back in November 2002 (headline: “It’s So Nice to Have a Manny Around”). Apparently, according to the Times reporter, mannies were “everywhere” even back then.

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.