Monday, October 10, 2016
ABC Fall Pilot Review: American Housewife - Premieres Tuesday (Oct. 11); Crackle Comedy Gets Christmas Special
American Housewife - Tuesdays at 8:30PM ET/PT on ABC
Premieres Tuesday, October 11, 2016 at 8:30PM ET/PT
American Housewife follows Katie Otto - a confident, unapologetic wife and mother of three, raising her flawed family in the wealthy town of Westport, Connecticut, filled with "perfect" mommies and their "perfect" offspring.
Katy Mixon as Katie Otto
Diedrich Bader as Greg Otto
Ali Wong as Doris
Carly Hughes as Angela
Daniel DiMaggio as Harrison Otto
Meg Donnelly as Taylor Otto
Julia Butters as Anna-Kat Otto
Katy Mixon (Katie Otto) is a film and TV actress known for her roles as April Buchanon on Eastbound and Down and Victoria Flynn on Mike & Molly. She also appeared in films such as Minions and Hell or High Water.
Diedrich Bader (Greg Otto) is known for his supporting roles on shows such as Veep and The Drew Carey Show and in films such as Office Space and Napoleon Dynamite. He has also appeared in shows such as Gravity Falls, Two and a Half Men and Arrested Development.
Ali Wong (Doris) is a comedic writer and actress known for her appearances on shows such as Inside Amy Schumer, Chelsea Lately and Best Week Ever, as well as her Netflix comedy special Ali Wong: Baby Cobra.
Carly Hughes (Angela) is a revered Broadway actress who has appeared in shows such as The Book of Mormon, Pippin and Ragtime. American Housewife will be her television debut.
Daniel DiMaggio (Harrison Otto) is a young actor whose previous appearances include guest roles on Supergirl and Burn Notice.
Meg Donnelly (Taylor Otto) is an actress who has appeared in NBC's The Sound of Music Live as well television shows such as What Would You Do? and Future Shock.
Julia Butters (Anna-Kat Otto) is a young actress who has appeared in the TV shows Transparent and The Kicks.
"Pilot" (Airs Tuesday, October 11 from 8:30 – 9:00 P.M.)
Katie and husband Greg have moved to Westport because the school district there is the best option for their youngest, Anna-Kat. Katie finds herself caught up in helping Anna-Kat fit in more while trying to assure that her older kids, Taylor and Oliver, immediately caught up in the luxe Westport lifestyle, fit in a little less. On top of this, Katie has her own insecurities about her place in their new town. Her perfectly imperfect world is upended when her neighbor's decision to move notches her up from her ideal social standing and sets her on a path to ensure that doesn't happen, regardless of the consequences.
American Housewife is one of the more frustrating comedies of the fall season, in that there is almost a complete even split of what's "good" about it and what's "bad" about it. The show that it reminds me the most of is Suburgatory – a fun, charming suburban satire that never managed to achieve the popularity of ABC's other family sitcoms of recent years. American Housewife is similarly bitter about its suburban setting, and Katy Mixon does an excellent job making you feel for her character's frustrating with her surroundings. There are even some legitimate, class-based grievances in her anger – Kate and her family are renters, which sets them apart from the extravagantly wealthy, mansion-owning upper-class dwellers that exist through-out the rest of the town. When the shows is honing in on that aspect, on Katie's frustration that her life isn't turning out in the ideal way she thought it would, as well as her attempts to keep her kids from being sucked into the trap of suburban wealth, it's entertaining, funny, and even poignant.
Unfortunately, the show gets far too caught up most of the time in its strange obsession with body image. The pilot is framed as Katie's quest to prevent herself from being "the second fattest woman in Westport," and it sends her into an endless rage over the "skinny bitches" that run rampant around her town. Frankly, this aspect of the show just falls completely flat: it doesn't cut deep enough to qualify as satire, and it isn't funny enough to use the "well, it's just for laughs defense." It's certainly possible to craft a comedy that makes risky jokes about body image, but you have to have a crystal-clear sense of purpose and sharp timing to really pull it off. American Housewife's spin on the issue lacks that focus, and it makes it feel forced and tonally awkward much of the time. Luckily, the body image material is much more prevalent in the show's shaky pilot than the improved second episode, which focuses more on Katie's frustration about her place in her family and heavily tones down the body image material. If it can keep heading in that direction, American Housewife could be worth a second look.
American Housewife is an interesting, occasionally very funny, but ultimately flawed show that has a winner in its leading couple and in some of its sharper suburban satire, but loses it way when it's making misguided jokes about body image and going too over-the-top in its cartoonish depiction of suburban jealousy. There are elements that make it worth watching, and the show is occasionally genuinely funny (which can be rare for a sitcom this early on), but it needs to fix key aspects of its central premise to fully be considered a worthwhile addition to ABC's rock-solid family comedy lineup.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):
Discuss the show after you watch it on Tuesday, October 11, 2016 at 8:30 ET/PT on our message board.
Crackle, Sony's free streaming service, announced that their Emmy-nominated original stop-motion comedy series, SuperMansion, will kick off the holiday season with an original half-hour special, SuperMansion: War on Christmas premiering Thursday, December 8. SuperMansion: War on Christmas focuses on a dysfunctional group of self-righteous superheroes, The League of Freedom, who can't agree on anything, but must band together to save Christmas when an interstellar imp, Mr. Skibumpers (Jim Parsons), unleashes a real-life Santa Claus (Gary Anthony Williams) who experiences an existential crisis. Ultimately, the team comes to understand that their differences of opinion are what the holiday spirit is all about.
Returning to the seasonal special are voiceover stars Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Emmy(R) Award-winner Keegan-Michael Key (Key & Peele), Seth Green (Family Guy), Jillian Bell (22 Jump Street), Anton Yelchin (Star Trek), Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey), Heidi Gardner (The Groundlings), Tucker Gilmore (Frozen), and Zeb Wells (Robot Chicken). Joining the cast for the holiday special are Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) and Gary Anthony Williams (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows). Season two of SuperMansion will return in early 2017, as previously announced at the Crackle upfront in April. You can binge-watch all 13 episodes on season one for free on Crackle.
New on DVD/Blu-ray (February/March)
02/07 - Sabrina, the Teenage Witch - Sabrina Down Under
02/07 - So Little Time - Volume 1 - School's Cool - Boy Crazy
02/07 - So Little Time - Volume 2 - About a Family - Hangin' Out
02/07 - 227 - The Complete First Season (Mill Creek)
02/07 - Vice Principals - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
02/14 - Beavis and Butt-Head - The Complete Collection
02/14 - Grace and Frankie - Season Two
02/28 - Fuller House - The Complete First Season
03/03 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - Now... In Living Color! (Blu-ray)
03/07 - The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Second Season
03/07 - Mama's Family - Mama's Favorites
03/07 - That '70s Show - The Complete Series - Flashback Edition (Blu-ray)
03/07 - What I Like About You - The Complete Second Season
03/07 - You Me Her - Season One
03/14 - Newhart - The Final (Eighth) Season
03/14 - Unbrekable Kimmy Schmidt - Season Two
03/21 - Master of None - Season One
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest
Sitcoms Airing Tonight
Wednesday, March 22
The Goldbergs - "O Captain! My Captain!" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Beverly substitutes for Barry’s chemistry class in hopes to inspire students in the same way as Mr. Keating from “Dead Poets Society,” much to Barry’s embarrassment. When Beverly refuses to give Barry special treatment, Murray pushes Barry to work hard and prove to her that he can get a good grade.
Speechless - "R-O--ROAD T-R--TRIP" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
The family goes on an annual impromptu family road trip, but Ray has something in store, which angers Maya when she finds out what it is. But Maya’s relentlessness proves to be helpful when she takes control of an emergency situation involving Ray’s appendix.
Modern Family - "Ringmaster Keifth" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Trying to recover from his Thanksgiving debacle, Cam decides to treat the family to a New Year’s Day feast. After realizing that Cam’s recent attempt is also a complete fail and in order to salvage their meal, Mitch uses a “concierge gift card” that he received as a Christmas gift. Cam soon discovers that the concierge who is on his way to save the day is none other than his ex-boyfriend, Keifth (Kelsey Grammar), a former circus ringmaster who left him without saying goodbye. Meanwhile, Phil’s dad, Frank (Fred Willard) arrives with his new girlfriend, who happens to be Phil’s childhood babysitter, which sets him on a confusing tailspin. Finally, Gloria and Jay have to decide who should take care of little Joe if something should ever happen to them.
black-ish - "40 Acres and a Vote" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
With Obama leaving office and the upcoming election, Dre finds a new candidate to believe in – Junior. Junior is running for class president and is overqualified for the job, but he just can’t seem to connect with his fellow classmates. Dre becomes his campaign manager and tries to make Junior appeal to the masses. Meanwhile, Pops, Johan and Jack discuss why they’re not voting in the upcoming election, and Bow is worried that Zoey’s college essay is not going to get her into college.
Schitt's Creek - "Stop Saying Lice!" (Pop, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Johnny tries to stop the spread of lice; Moira tries to get out of having a garden named after her.
Wednesday, March 22
- America Ferrera (Superstore) - Watch America on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC. She will also be on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
- Woody Harrelson (Cheers) - Woody stops by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
- Michael McKean (Laverne & Shirley) - Michael appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
- H. Jon Benjamin (Bob's Burgers) - H. Jon is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
- Kristen Bell (The Good Place) - Kristen visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
- Josh Gad (The Comedians/1600 Penn/Back to You) - Josh drops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Judy Greer (Married/Mad Love/Miss Guided) - Judy appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Greg Proops (True Jackson, VP) - Greg is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
- Eugene Mirman (Bob's Burgers) - Eugene appears on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
- Laura Dern (Enlightened) - Laura stops by Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo. She also talks about Wilson and The Founder on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
- Kate Walsh (Bad Judge/The Drew Carey Show) - Kate is a guest on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
- Mark Consuelos (Alpha House/Hope & Faith) - Mark guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- Lena Dunham (Girls) - Lena is a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
- Sanaa Lathan (Family Guy/The Cleveland Show/LateLine) - Sanaa joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT. She will also be on the AOL Build Show at 1pm.
- Rhea Perlman (Cheers/Kirstie) - Rhea talks about Me and My Grandma on NBC's Today in the 9am hour. She will also be on the AOL Build Show at 4:30pm.