Comedian James Mustapic’s mother, Janet, was happily single and living in Dunedin until James cannonballed her into the spotlight to publicly go on dates and secure herself a man.

James Must-a-pic His Mum a Man is a hilarious new local comedy series where James becomes a dating Yoda, imparting (often not useful) wisdom, and exploring Janet’s dating past and future. Throughout the episodes, James listens to Janet’s wants and needs and sets her up on a series of outrageous dates.

James and Janet sat down for a post-filming debrief with Seven Sharp at art experience Pinot & Picasso, and were tasked with painting each other’s portrait and peel back the layers of their mother/son relationship.

Getting his mum to agree to go on blind dates on telly was a challenge for James. He opted to surreptitiously pitch the series concept to funders and asked Janet afterwards if she would agree to take part.

‘I like them to have a neck’

“I spent a couple of months with my fingers crossed hoping he would not get funding… and then he wrote to our group chat, to my daughter Jenny his sister, and he said, ‘Mum’s going to be on TV and I thought… ‘Oh, no!'”

Janet was locked in for the wild ride but right from the outset she set the bar low: “Well I like them to have a neck.”

Since her experience on the show, Janet’s boyfriend criteria have evolved. Now she values “somebody who’s kind… kindness is very attractive,” she said.

This is not just a quest to find Janet a man. James is also finding himself a stepdad — a big risk considering that parents and children can have juxtaposing ideas about what makes a good partner.

In terms of what James is looking for: “Look, I was just happy for anyone to date her really.”

James sat opposite Janet, with their half-painted canvases between them, and took sneaky peaks at each other as their artistic creations came to fruition.

When it came time to reveal what they had painted, they had mixed reactions. James was fond of the portrait Janet had painted of him, Janet… not so much.

In James’ portrait of Janet, she was surrounded by hearts, knitting needles, her cat Otto, and a bird.

“Janet likes to talk to birds. That’s actually another symptom of being lonely.”

Janet’s depiction of James was more flattering, but only slightly.

“I look like a mime. I’ve got a white face.”

James and Janet have their artistic differences, but can they come together to find the man they’re looking for?

You’ll have to watch the series to find out.

James Must-a-pic His Mum a Man is available to stream on TVNZ+

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