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.


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