Family sitcoms, thy are the bread and butter of ABC.
Seriously, aside from hot docs and well-dressed anti-heroines (Scandal's Olivia Pope and Revenge's Emily Thorne come to mind), the network loves it some dysfunctional families. With Modern Family, Suburgatory and The Middle already on the air for several seasons a piece, almost all of the network's new fall offerings in the comedic department focus on unusual families. Tonight, two of them make their series debut: The Goldbergs, an '80s sitcom that we're totally feelin', and Trophy Wife, which takes the award for worst title away from Cougar Town (a former ABC show that has since moved to TBS).
But like Cougar Town, is Trophy Wife way better than its pigeonholing title? Or does it play right into its name, giving viewers a run-of-the-mill tale of a hot woman who finds herself with a built-in family after falling for a twice-married-and-divorced man? In an effort to help you decide which of the many newbies debuting this fall are worth your time, we're reviewing all of the five network's new series, including ABC's Trophy Wife...
Trophy Wife (CABC)
Premieres: Tuesday, Sept. 24, 9:30 p.m.
Time-Slot Competition: NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), The Mindy Project (FOX) Supernatural (The CW), The Voice (NBC)
Cast: Malin Akerman, Bradley Whitford, Michaela Watkins, Natalie Morales, Ryan Lee, Bailee Madison and Marcia Gay Harden
Status: We've seen the original pilot episode, which doesn't feature Madison
You thought your family was quirky? We're guessing they, and any other family you've ever met, are quite as quirky as the one reformed party girl Kate (a charming beyond belief Malin Akerman) finds herself the matriarch of in Trophy Wife, which is loosely based on creator Sarah Haskin's life. After falling in love with Pete (Whitford, solid as always), an older businessman, Kate's life now includes dealing with his two very-different ex-wives, and (attempting to) step-parenting his three children, including an adopted Asian-American boy. But Kate hasn't completely let her old partying ways behind as BFF Meg (Morales), who is still single and loving it, is around to keep things interesting.
Do we need to go on? You know exactly where this one is going and yet it works for the most part.
Sure, there's a lot going on, perhaps too much in the premiere, as Trophy Wife must establish the dynamics between Pete and the three women in his life, as well as between the three women, which it pulls off fairly well. Diana (Gay Harden) is Pete's first ex-wife, a no-nonsense former Olympian who seems to always be waiting for Kate to mess up, and his second ex-wife Jackie (Watkins, whose character doesn't feel fully formed yet) is a hippie who still has a key to the house. Boundaries? Not in this family. We're having a hard time seeing how Pete was ever married to all three of these very different women, but it is fun watching Pete interact with them all individually and as a group.
As if the two disapproving ex-wives weren't enough for Kate to contend with in the pilot, she also must face off with a sullen step-daughter with a penchant for filling water bottles with vodka and taking them to school and a potentially lovestruck stepson, who may be harboring inappropriate feelings for his father's new wife. Cue wacky, if slightly predictable, hijinks!
But Akerman is a delight as the in-over-her-head Kate, so much so that her work here almost washes the bitter aftertaste of her monster of a role as Katherine Heigl's sister in 27 Dresses out of our brains. (She cut up their mother's wedding dress!) The fact that she and Whitford share an easy chemistry (Kate and Pete's meet-cute-turned-disaster is a highlight) is just icing on the cake.
Verdict: DVR. We think this series has a lot of potential...and a lot of stiff competition at 9:30 on Tuesday night.
Our Review in .GIF Form: