The time has come once again (again). The summer sun set long ago. The days have grown colder and the nights have grown longer and we’ve filled those nights with
fretting about the election new fall TV. As happens every autumn, the five major networks unleashed a flurry of new programs meant to entertain us into these dark, frigid winter months (and beyond). So many choices. So much risk! How will you know what to watch? That’s where I come in. I watch every new fall pilot episode so that you don’t have to (even if it takes me months to do so). I take one for the team, so you can watch the… screen(m). It’s time for more of…
THE PILOT PROJECT (2016 Edition Pt. 2)
American Housewife (Tuesdays on ABC)
Oh man. This is it. The one we’ve all been waiting for!
I don’t know that I necessarily dreaded watching any of this year’s pilots (even Kevin Can Wait was fun to mock), but if there was one that I cared about the least, it was probably American Housewife. Now, I wasn’t really basing this feeling on anything. I hadn’t seen a trailer or heard anything in particular about the show. I think that maybe my preconceived notions stemmed solely from the title. Nothing about a show called American Housewife sounds particularly appealing, because that’s about as broad and clichéd a title as you could possibly come up with. Unfortunately, the show lives up to its name.
I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but American Housewife is fine. It’s fine! It’s not particularly funny or original, but I’m sure there are people out there who would enjoy it. Katy Mixon stars as Katie Otto, an (wait for it) American housewife! She’s got a husband, Greg (Diedrich Bader), and three kids: Taylor (Meg Donnelly), Oliver (Daniel DiMaggio), and Anna-Kat (Julia Butters). The Otto’s are a middle-class family living in the incredibly wealth town of Westport, Conneticut, and the series looks to follow Katie’s struggle to keep her family grounded amidst the wealth and privilege they’re surrounded by every day. She’s got two kids (Taylor and Oliver) who are fitting in too well and becoming the privileged elite that she can’t stand, and she’s got little Anna-Kat, an outsider who seems to be suffering from a mild case of OCD. It’s a winning formula, because that’s just it – a formula. Down-to-earth wife, goofy husband, and oddball children. I just described American Housewife, as well as The Middle, Fresh off the Boat, Black-ish, Modern Family, and Speechless (and those are just the network family sitcoms that are airing this fall). I would have listed The Goldbergs as well, only the husband/wife roles have been reversed (sorry, I can’t speak to The Real O’Neals because I haven’t started it).
Listen, you’ve probably noticed by now that it’s very hard for me to hate a show. Unless the show is actively offensive or boring, I’ll probably find some redeemable qualities in it (or at least I’ll recognize that it’s competently made). Should I be so easy on unremarkable entertainment? Maybe not. That’s why I’m not a very good critic. Having seen first-hand the work that goes into creating a show, I don’t feel right being overly dismissive. American Housewife wasn’t very funny, but I also wasn’t overly offended by it. So…
American Housewife is a serviceable slice of American family sitcom, and if you think it’s something you’d like, then go ahead and watch it, but you’d be better served by watching Fresh off the Boat, Black-ish, The Goldbergs, Modern Family, Speechless, The Middle, or The Real O’Neals (probably). There might have been a time in which American Housewife would have felt fresh and original, but in this age of “Peak TV”, who has the time?
Recommendation: Skip it