I’ve railed against shows that showed too much in the previews so it’s time to take a look at a show that achieved enviable balance. Compared to its Tuesday night peers Trophy Wife was practically invisible in the weeks leading up to its debut. I suppose ABC figured it would market the hell out of the first two Tuesday night slots (Agents of SHIELD and The Goldbergs) and hope everyone was too lazy to flip the channel.
Or perhaps they just didn’t have as much faith in Trophy Wife to give it the budget of their lead-ins. If that’s the case it’s unfortunate because Trophy Wife stood out as one of the better shows in ABC’s brand new block.
The premise of a young woman marrying into a family complete with an older husband, three kids and two ex-wives might not sound like scintillating television, but the cast pulls it off. Malin Akerman (Kate) gets to show off her great timing while Bradley Whitford (Peter) is perfect as the straight man in a sea of quirky women. The two ex-wives were merely caricatures this week with Marcia Gay Harden (Diane) taking the hard, bitchy role while Michaela Watkins (Jackie) played the flighty new age one. They played the roles well, but hopefully there’s a little more rounding out down the road or it could get tedious. But the real breakout star is Albert Tsai who plays Bert, Peter and Jackie’s adopted son. Decent child actors are hard to come by, but ones with an innate sense of funny are practically nonexistent which makes Tsai stand out all the more.
Perhaps because so little was shown in the previews, the pilot offered plenty of laugh out loud moments and more importantly, showed promise for even more laughs in the future. Lots of family comedies have attempted to bank off of Modern Family’s success, but this is the closest any of them has come.
Unironically it took another “modern family” to mirror that success. Instead of forcing dysfunction to whip around into touching like so many comedies have tired (ahem, Goldbergs), Trophy Wife paid attention to making the characters interesting and real and let the comedy and whatever touching moments there were stem from that. Basically what Modern Family did years ago, but in a fresher and, dare I say, more modern way.
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