Happy Family

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Chucklehound Entertainment would like to warn our more sensitive reader of some, uh, explicit language below.

Dear NBC,

Fuck you.

Seriously, fuck you.

Ever since Seinfeld went off the air, you have been utterly and completely incapable of creating a decent sitcom. Look at your recent attempts. Good Morning Miami? Whoopi? Coupling? All horrible, horrible shows.

And then, you manage to put Happy Family on the air. Possibly the most mean spirited, misanthropic, spiteful, bitter sitcom on one of the Big 4 networks since... well, since Seinfeld. In short, it was the best sitcom of the season.

Perhaps you've already forgotten the premise of the show. Middle aged couple (played by the wonderfully cynical pair of John Larroquette and Christine Baranski) have three allegedly adult children, none of whom show any interest in actually moving on with their lives. The oldest works for his father and has recently called off his marriage. The middle (played by everyone's favorite Glad spokeswoman and Joyce DeWitt impersonator, Melanie Paxson) insists on coming by the house regularly, while the youngest, having failed out of college, has taken up with the recently divorced, forty-something neighbor. Yeah, I know the setup was a little cumbersome and audiences apparently didn't want to see a movie about a generally creepy April-August relationship, but it allowed for a wonderful wellspring of hostility on the show.

Take the fifth episode, in which Tim, the youngest son, manages to actually get a job scooping frozen yogurt, much to the pride of his parents. His parents question why they are so pleased with Tim's modest success and conclude that, not only do they apparently think their son is an idiot, but that they probably think this because he is, in fact, an idiot. Significantly more hostility than you usually get in a family sitcom.

Of course, the powers that be (which is to say "you") couldn't let this be, presumably because noone was watching the show. Let's get rid of the middle aged love interest, you said. Let's bring in a sassy dental assistant for the oldest son to banter with, you said. Let's generally emasculate the show and hope that what America wants, more than anything, is another bland, forgettable sitcom, you said.

Which is why I feel the need to resort to profanity (as well as sentence fragments). You see, I like to think that my friends and family place some trust in my recommendations. When I take the time to recommend a new show, I like to think that my word means something. If, however, the network decides to undergo a massive retooling of the show in between the time of my recommendation and when people actually get around to watching the show, my word is worthless. My friends and family watch the new, bland Happy Family and say, "Huh?"

I know that you have a hard job as a network programmer. But perhaps you should realize that Happy Family might find a better audience after Frasier instead of after Whoopi. Do you really expect the sass-loving morons who are choosing to watch Whoopi are going to enjoy a relatively subtle comedy? Do you really expect they're going to prefer a remarkably bland pointless show instead?

I guess you do.

So, once again, fuck you.

Rating: C (Was an A prior to retooling)

Reviewed by Padgett Arango
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