Bad sitcoms make my skin crawl. Let me (to pilfer rhetoric shameless from our president) be clear: I am not a snob -- at least, not about television. I will watch COPS with glee. I have laughed out loud on multiple occasions while taking in an episode of The Big Bang Theory. I get worried and anxious if I'm not home for Vanderpump Rules. There are a million reasons I might judge someone -- the television they watch is not one of those areas I choose to direct my prejudicial focus upon.
All of that said, I find it baffling that so many people watch so many bland, uninspired, cold sitcoms when there are great ones they are completely missing out on. When I watched last week's episode of Modern Family, it was all I could do not to take to Twitter and start railing against this show. I tried to be good, but it even made it into my recap: Why watch Modern Family when something as good as Trophy Wife exists?
If you aren't watching Trophy Wife, this is a situation you should rectify and here's why. Unlike other shows currently on the air, Trophy Wife elevates the idea of family rather than trampling all over it. I know, I can hear the hive mind rumbling at me already. Don't let the title fool you. This isn't a show about a man and his ex-wives sniping at his new bride. This is a show about a family. It's a show anyone who co-parents can turn to and smile at. Frankly, the show is proof that you can divorce someone and still care about them deeply. Marriages might end, but, in the wise wise words of Mr. Dan Savage, their end doesn't mean they were failed efforts. The last time non-traditional families were straight-up celebrated this way was, I cannot believe I'm saying this, Big Love (suffice to say that did not end well).
Trophy Wife features good people who aren't boring. Most sitcoms exploit familiar, irritating tropes -- the nagging wife, the loutish husband. If you're "good," you're boring, if you're "bad," you're a moustache twirling villain. There's no room for the gray state where most of us exist daily.
The entire cast of the show is comprised of people who are GOOD -- but that doesn't mean they aren't flawed. Marcia Gay Harden's controlling, uptight, and well-meaning ex-wife character could be a chaffed cliche. But in the season's short span, we've already seen not just her soft underbelly, but her singularly quirky personality. The Christmas episode anyone? "Foraging for chestnuts with dear Papa" and taking in a pet wolf/coyote? Comic gold.
What I love most about the show is how even when they are furious with each other, the characters who make up the ensemble really care for each other. There is no undermining, there are no jokes at anyone else's expense without due cause or repercussions. It's refreshing in a way I cannot express fully.
Also, the show is half-comprised of child actors -- who are all uniformly talented and likeable. When was the last time you watched a T.V. show and the kids weren't painted as brats, buffoons, or brown-nosers? I'll answer that for you: It's never. It has never once happened. The show airs tonight at 9:30 p.m. EST on ABC. Come for Bradley Whitford, stay for Malin Ackerman, and come back for Maria Gay Harden, Mikaela Watkins, and the inimitable Ryan Lee:
Will you check it out, or are you so awesome that you're already a fan? You want us to recap it for you? ALL OF THE QUESTIONS STIRBOTS.