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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

PILOT REVIEW: American Housewife


Starring: Katy Mixon, Diedrich Bader, Meg Donnelly, Daniel DiMaggio, Julia Butters, Ali Wong, Carly Hughes

Created by Sarah Dunn
Written by Sarah Dunn, Directed by Ruben Fleischer

American Housewife is a new sitcom that fits completely into the ABC wheelhouse of family comedies. That's the good news for me because I'm a big fan of The Middle, Fresh Off the Boat, The Goldbergs, Black-ish, and (so far) Speechless. The bad news is I worry this may be a little closer to The Real O'Neals than all those great sitcoms I just mentioned. It's hard to tell but early on, my indication is that this is a pretty decent show, it just may not be my cup of tea.

Katy Mixon plays Katie Otto, who is now the "second fattest housewife in Westport." That premise, which was the show's original title, overshadowed the pilot and was too much of a focus. The fat jokes and discussions were overused just as in Mixon's previous show, Mike & Molly. One of the best things about these ABC sitcoms is they are not premise-heavy shows. They are about diverse families, but that's about as far as premises go. This one seemed a little too focused on its premise instead of allowing it to just "be." I liked Mixon a lot in this though I wasn't sold on Diedrich Bader as her husband. I didn't find him very believable and he didn't seem to have a lot of chemistry with Mixon.

But there are signs that this show could get better and the best signs are from the kids. We didn't see a whole lot of teenager Taylor (Johnny Sequoyah in the pilot, Meg Donnelly in the series) but the other two made a nice impression in the pilot. Daniel DiMaggio is playing a little Alex P. Keaton in Harrison. We've had pretentious kids before but I'm not sure we've had this variation since Michael J. Fox's iconic role. And Julia Butters is very promising as Anna-Kat, a mini-Brick from The Middle. She was very funny and quirky and I think the show has a good handle on her character and how to mine it for comedy without seeming like it's making fun of her, something The Middle has done exceptionally well too.

It's so easy to see why this was chosen to air after The Middle, because that is by far it's closest relative in the overall similar feeling ABC comedy lineup. From the slightly unconventional family in a more conventional location to the outspoken narration from the mother and leader of the family to the quirky youngest child. But right now, it's nowhere near The Middle because it is focused too much on stereotypes and not as much on heart. That's not to say it can't get there, but it's not there yet.

Yes. I wasn't totally sold on some of the other ABC comedies at first that I love now so I'll give it a little bit of time to figure itself out before making final judgement.

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