Friday, April 5, 2013

TV Review: How To Live With Your Parents (For The Rest Of Your Life)

Normally I don't take the time to review mid-season spring premieres, but since ABC's new comedy How To Live With Your Parents (For The Rest of Your Life) is intended as the replacement for superior-yet-ratings-challenged Happy Endings and Don't Trust the B**** in Apt. 23 and also stars Scrubs alum Sarah Chalke, I decided to bite the hook.

Despite being another prime time show whose title is longer than its running time and despite being shoehorned between the spring and summer television season, HTLWYP(FTROYL) – seriously, what are we supposed to call this thing? – is a generally enjoyable albeit largely underwhelming offering in the new "quirky dialogue and quirky family" genre of television. The show is, in essence, Modern Family with a smaller cast, more sexual experimentation jokes and a cloying voice-over narration in place of the mockumentary character interviews.

The show revolves around Polly (Chalke) who, along with her daughter Natalie, moves back in with her Gen-X hippie parents after leaving her man-child of a husband. So in addition to Modern Family, it's a lot like Fox's cancelled-too-soon Ben and Kate, except it takes itself too seriously.

The pilot episode is spent with a throwaway plot that does little more than introduce the characters, which include Everybody Loves Raymond's Brad Garrett as Polly's stepfather (a running gag centers on his anatomical challenges following a bout with testicular cancer) and Elizabeth Perkins as Polly's dance-in-the-rain bohemian mother. Garrett always irritated me on Raymond, but as the ear-pierced Max he was actually the most enjoyable aspect of the show besides Rachel Eggleston (Natalie) who avoids the curse of the annoying child by having relatively little screen time (A tactic I like to call "The Baby Lilly").

It gets some laughs and keeps the dialogue zippy, but also dips into a few lazy ponds, such as insinuating over and over again that Polly is a "slut" by agreeing to go on her first date, 6 months after her divorce, to a man that she met in a grocery store and is nicknamed "Jewish Superman". "My stars!" all of the viewers shocked by her behavior would say while fanning themselves, if they existed. The dialogue and jokes are a little forced but not woefully so, and a few more episodes will tell if its indicative of the writing talent or if it's just typically pilot-episode awkwardness. I also worry about setting up Polly's ex-husband as a potential will-they-won't-they reconciliation since he's firmly established as an undependable dunce.

Ultimately, HTLWYP(FTROYL) is an innocuous, if not enjoyable, addition to the TV landscape.

Grade: B

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