Monday, October 10, 2016

ABC Fall Pilot Review: American Housewife - Premieres Tuesday (Oct. 11); Crackle Comedy Gets Christmas Special

American Housewife

American Housewife - Tuesdays at 8:30PM ET/PT on ABC
Premieres Tuesday, October 11, 2016 at 8:30PM ET/PT


by Vincent

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.

Cast Details:

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 Plot:

"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.

Analysis:

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.

Conclusion:

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):

Watchability: 3/5
Funniness: 3.5/5
Overall: 3/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Tuesday, October 11, 2016 at 8:30 ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • ABC.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • American Housewife Photo Gallery

    Preview:





  • SuperMansion: War on Christmas

    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 (October/November)

    Dr. Ken - Season One Mike & Molly - The Complete Sixth and Final Season Family Matters - The Complete Ninth Season The Lucy Show - The Complete Series The Mindy Project - Season Four

    10/04 - The Andy Griffith Show - The Christmas Special (Colorized)
    10/04 - I Love Lucy - Superstar Special #1 (Colorized)
    10/11 - Dr. Ken - Season One
    10/11 - Mike & Molly - The Complete Sixth and Final Season
    10/11 - Mike & Molly - The Complete Series
    10/11 - Nurse Jackie - Seasons One and Two
    10/11 - Weeds - Seasons One and Two
    11/01 - Schitt's Creek - Seasons One and Two
    11/08 - Family Matters - The Complete Ninth Season
    11/08 - Your Family or Mine - Season One
    11/15 - Community - The Complete Series
    11/15 - The Lucy Show - The Complete Series
    11/15 - The Mindy Project - Season Four
    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Sunday, December 11

    The Simpsons - "The Nightmare After Krustmas" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    Krusty tries to impress his daughter as they spend Christmas with the Simpsons. Meanwhile, Reverend Lovejoy seeks converts after church attendance plummets, and Maggie is haunted by a spooky Christmas toy.

    Son of Zorn - "The War on Grafelnik" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    Torn between Edie’s Christmas and Zorn’s Grafelnik – the Zephyrian holiday of revenge – Alan realizes he can play his parents off each other to get better presents.

    Family Guy - "How the Griffin Stole Christmas" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    Peter is asked to fill in for the mall Santa, until he gets drunk on the power when he realizes that Santa can get away with anything. Meanwhile, Stewie and Brian crash holiday office parties for the free food, drama and women.

    The Last Man on Earth - "If You're Happy and You Know It" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
    Carol is bummed about Gail’s absence, so Tandy tries to cheer her up with the honeymoon vacation they never had. Meanwhile, Lewis finds new success with his pursuits in aviation and Melissa is contained.

    The Dick Van Dyke Show - Now in Living Color - (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    Spread the holiday cheer with “The Dick Van Dyke Show – Now in Living Color!,” a new one-hour special featuring two newly colorized back-to-back classic episodes of the beloved 1960s series, to be broadcast Sunday, Dec. 11 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Series creator and co-star Carl Reiner personally supervised the colorization of the episodes.

    The special features the groundbreaking episode “That’s My Boy??” and “Coast to Coast Big Mouth,” which ranked #8 on TV Guide’s list of the “100 Greatest TV Episodes of All-Time.” Both episodes were written by Bill Persky & Sam Denoff. The main titles and end credits of the two episodes are seamlessly combined into one set – at the beginning and end of the hour – with no interruption between the episodes.

    In “That’s My Boy??,” as Rob and Laura host a dinner party with a few friends, Rob recalls the hectic days after their son Ritchie was born, when he was sure the hospital had given him and Laura the wrong baby. The episode, originally broadcast on Sept. 25, 1963, was the third season premiere.

    In “Coast to Coast Big Mouth,” Laura Petrie blurts out a top secret on a national television quiz show, revealing that comedian Alan Brady wears a toupee. The episode, which was the show’s fifth and final season premiere, was originally broadcast on Sept. 15, 1965. “Coast to Coast Big Mouth” won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series in 1966.

    Bizaardvark - "Agh, Humbug" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    Bernie gets bummed about not being invited to the Vuuugler-only holiday party, so the gang tries to turn him into an overnight online star so that he can attend, too.

    Best Friends Whenever - "Revenge of the Past" (Disney Channel, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    Shelby gets trapped in the 16th century after trying to save Daisy from marriage, so the friends join forces to help rescue her.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of December 12)

    Monday, December 12

    • Jennifer Lawrence (The Bill Engvall Show) - Watch Jennifer Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Bryan Cranston (Malcolm in the Middle) - Bryan is a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC. He also chats about the film Why Him? on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
    • John Goodman (Roseanne/Normal, Ohio) - John appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. He will also be on CBS This Morning sometime between 7-9am.
    • Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) - Chris visits The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Olivia Munn (Perfect Couples) - Olivia is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS. She joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
    • Matthew Perry (The Odd Couple/Go On/Mr. Sunshine) - Matthew stops by The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
    • Kevin Nealon (Man with a Plan/Weeds/Hiller and Diller/Champs) - Kevin appears on Harry, so check your local listings.
    • Will Smith (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) - Will talks about Collateral Beauty on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
    • Henry Winkler (Happy Days/Out of Practice/Arrested Development) - Henry will be on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
    • Megan Mullally (Will & Grace) - Megan is a guest on the AOL Build Show at 4pm.
    • Kathy Griffin (Suddenly Susan) - Kathy appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.