Each new TV season brings excitement to your average couch potato. I am an average couch potato. Needless to say, I’m excited about the new TV season.
However, the new TV season also always brings, for me at least, one or two shows that I latch onto even though I know they are going to be canceled. Past examples: Go On, Bent, The River, and 666 Park Avenue. This season the show that I will get attached to but will inevitably get the axe is Trophy Wife.
I watched the first episode last night and really enjoyed it. I laughed a lot. The characters are funny. The plot was enjoyable, albeit far-fetched. But it will never make it to a second season.
The premise is this: Bradley Whitford (Billy Madison, The West Wing) plays Pete, a relatively ho-hum lawyer that is on his third marriage to the young, very attractive, very trophy wife-esque, Kate (Malin Akerman of 27 Dresses). Of course he has kids by each of his first two marriages – two biological children with his first wife, the ultra-domineering doctor, and an adopted Asian child by his second wife, the kooky, green, free-spirit.
In the first episode, there are four plotlines. (I guess I should write spoiler alert somewhere in here, but it’s a sitcom pilot, what could I possibly spoil?)
The first is Kate having to play real life step-mom and attend a parent teacher conference for Warren, Pete’s oldest son. At the conference, we learn that Warren has been writing Greek Mythology erotica that focuses on an older woman with an ankle tattoo. Shockingly, Warren’s mom, the doctor, shows up for the conference and assumes that naturally the older woman from the stories is Kate, because she all too conveniently has an ankle tattoo. It was nice to see Phyllis from The Office in this scene as Warren’s teacher.
The second plot picks up after the conference. Kate has told Hillary, Pete’s daughter, about a time she used a water bottle to sneak vodka into a concert. Of course, Hillary does this at school and runs into Kate after Kate gets done with Warren’s conference. Kate reprimands her but says she won’t tell Hillary’s mom, Doctor Mom, about it. Right on cue, Doctor Mom appears with Warren who is thirsty. Doctor Mom asks Kate for the water bottle so Warren can have some and instead of blowing Hillary’s cover, Kate proceeds to chug the entire bottle of vodka. She then has to catch a ride home from Doctor Mom because she’s sloppy drunk but tries to play it off like she’s lost her keys.
The third features Bert, the Asian child, being taken to a saxophone lesson by Kate’s irresponsible, party-girl friend, Meg. The plot here is dumb (He locks himself in the car), but my goodness, Bert is a show stealer. Hands down the funniest moments in the show come courtesy of Bert. Hopefully he will become more of a key player because he’s cute, awkward, chubby, and has a funny voice. He’s just awesome.
The last, and in my opinion funniest plot, features Pete and Free-Spirit Mom on the hunt for a set of twin hamsters. Bert has a set of twin hamsters, and he keeps one at each of his parents’ houses. Unsurprisingly, both parents have killed the hamster they are responsible for. The free-spirit mom keeps her dead one in a plastic baggie so she can match it to the potential new one, but the sales rep at the pet store sees the bagged hamster and is none-too-pleased.
In the end, everyone meets back at Pete’s place and all the plots tie up neatly as they should in a good, family sitcom. No surprises. Nothing fancy. Just nice, old-fashioned resolution.
Sadly this show is not going to make it. The premise is iffy. It’s trying to be Modern Family but with more divorces and less likability. I thought the laughs were good and there were plenty, but I had a hard time connecting with the characters. You usually need to identify with one character, even if in a small way, to really enjoy a show. There’s no doubt I will be a Phil (Modern Family) type dad. But the Trophy Wife characters are too extreme to allow people to feel like they’ve been in or are in their shoes. They are caricatures of somewhat normal folks, but they aren’t normal folks like the people who will watch the show are.
If this were a movie, with big name actors, it would work well. I would love to see how a big plot would unfold with this set of characters in a 90 to 120 minute sitting, but I don’t think they can make a show like this work for more than a few episodes before it starts to get stale.
I’ll stick with it because I did laugh a lot and because of Bert, but I won’t have to stick with it for long.
Prediction: Canceled mid-season.