Not just an honorary "Trophy"
After four episodes of "Trophy Wife," I can safely say that it is the best new comedy of the fall.
Leading up to this season the comedies receiving positive (and mostly negative) attention were "Dads," "Mom," Michael J. Fox's return to regular to a sitcom and "Sean Saves the World." Flying under the radar was this terribly named (think "Cougartown") ensemble family comedy that is filthy, hilarious, extremely well acted and laugh out loud funny.
The formula for "Trophy Wife" is a little scary. A premise that revolves around an extended family, in the vein of "Modern Family," is a little off putting, because it makes the show seem like it will just be a one-trick pony. Instead, the show ends up being a slightly dumbed down version of "Arrested Development." (That's AD at its peak and not the freak show version on Netflix that I couldn't finish)
ABC assembled an all-star cast for "Trophy Wife" and it paid off. Bradley Whitford has always been an underrated comedy actor, just look at the way he elevated the shortlived "The Good Guys" and inserted laughs into "The West Wing." Also delivering chuckles is Marcia Gay Harden, who proves the rule that good actors are good actors whether they're in comedies or drama. The last perfect part is Michaela Watkins, a Saturday Night Live alum who was completely wasted before she found this show.
The second tier players include all the kids, one of whom was a second episode replacement, and Malin Akerman as the title character. And while these actors are operating on a lower level, it is only a short drop.
My attraction to this show largely stems from the dialogue, which is sharp and bites a lot harder than anything on network television. The characters border on mean sometimes and are generally filthy, sarcastic and clueless.
The best one-liners come from Watkins, who plays a slacker hippie and has no qualms about failing repeatedly at life or telling people about her large alimony settlement. Her foil is the no-nonsense doctor played by Harden, who is so controlling that she won't let her ex-husband take credit for invading their daughter's privacy.
So far, and it's still early, the show has done an amazing job balancing a crowded cast. There appear to be eight characters, if you include the trophy wife's best friend, which is still smaller than the casts for "Modern Family" and "Arrested Development." The cast is small enough that no one is left with nothing to do and large enough that the writers have plenty of characters on the bench for a fresh look.
Unfortunately this show is being wasted in ABC's Tuesday night lineup, where the ratings are less than impressive. Although if "Trophy Wife" was getting almost 5 million viewers on NBC it would get a parade. But because it is on ABC, which demands ratings that are better than a regional network, the future of "Trophy Wife" is in doubt.
It was a huge mistake not to put "Trophy Wife" on Wednesday night, where it could pair with "The Middle" and "Modern Family." It would be a perfect fit in the 9:30 p.m. spot, which is currently being wasted by "Super Fun Night."
Catch up on this show with Hulu or Time Warner Cable OnDemand.
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