Pilot Preview: ABC's Arm-candy Comedy Trophy Wife

By Tim Surette

Jul 08, 2013

Hey you! This isn't a review, it's a PREview. Huge difference. Most notably, the "P." Also, these PREviews are based on early cuts of pilots that might change drastically by the time they officially hit the air, so we can't properly review them. But we CAN give you an idea of what to expect. In this series of early looks at the new shows of fall 2013, there's no contemplating, no deep analysis; just super-duper quick thoughts on what we just watched that we're passing on to you. We'll revisit each previewed show in the fall with the hyper-intellectual breakdowns and fart jokes you're used to from us goons here at TV.com. 



Trophy Wife – Tuesdays at 9:30pm on ABC

STARRING AND CREATED BY: Malin Akerman (Childrens Hospital; Silk Spectre II from The Watchmen) is the star here, and she's supported by Bradley Whitford (Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip; Adam Sandler's smarmy nemesis from Billy Madison), Marcia Gay Harden (Damages, Mystic River), Michaela Watkins (Enlightened), Natalie Morales (The Middleman), and that kid with the teeth, Ryan Scott Lee (one of Chang's army in CommunitySuper 8). Emily Halpern (The Unit) and Sarah Haskins (Family Tools) wrote the pilot.


THE GIST: Kate (Akerman) is a "former party girl" who winds up marrying an older gentleman named Pete (Whitford) thanks to some weird circumstances. She becomes Pete's third wife and joins an already existing modern family *ahem* of three stepchildren and two ex-wives. So how will a young, attractive lady with no mommy experience handle a situation she isn't prepared for? Presumably, that's what we'll find out over the course of 100 episodes and syndication deals. 


SNAP JUDGMENT: Ehhhh not bad, though the standard by which we judge network comedies nowadays is awfully forgiving. The best thing Trophy Wife has to offer is a charming look at an increasingly more common family structure of ex-somethings and step-whatchamacallits in addition to the nuclear center. There's obvious love for family here, and that comes across because the show thankfully doesn't make all of its characters into A-holes. The stereotype of the spiteful ex-wife is blown up twice as everyone gets along reasonably well, a refreshing new take on what's been ingrained in our heads as fact. I love Akerman from her work on Burning Love and Childrens Hospital and I generally think she's better off doing comedy with more of an edge, but Trophy Wife falls in line with some of her other more commercial work. The humor is pretty routine and heartwarming, but it's also competent, so the show could end up being a nice second-tier comedy for ABC. 



PILOTITIS DIAGNOSIS: After a short and mostly painless set-up, this gets straight to the feel of the series and the characters are all well introduced. Well done, writers!


FACES TO LOOK OUT FOR: First and foremost, this is Akerman's chane to introduce herself to America, and she's mostly take-home-to-your-mom delightful. But Watkins—whose subtle brilliance as Enlightened's sorta new-age and partially defeated lost soul Jackie was overlooked—kills it and is destined for many great best-friend roles.


RANDOM THOUGHTS: Look I'm not being racist here, but one of Pete's stepchildren was adopted from China and I swear the writers just made him into the bubbly, super-positive, very curious kid from Up. This is not a bad thing.


EXCITEMENT LEVEL: Middle-of-the-road, let's say 6 out of 10. Is it as good as Suburgatory? No. Is it better than Super Fun Night? Hell yes. It's definitely good enough to warrant sticking around for a few episodes.



PILOT PREVIEW POWER RANKINGS:
(Where we rank the fall season's pilots based on very early impressions)


DRAMA
1. Almost Human - J.J. Abrams and J.H. Wyman's robotic buddy-cop drama


COMEDY
1. Trophy Wife - Malin Akerman marries into a big family and ends up with two ex-wives and three stepchildren in the process 

2. About a Boy - Jason Katims' TV adaptation of the film adaption of Nick Hornby's novel about a man-boy friendship

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  • feduppia Sep 14, 2013



  • feduppia Sep 14, 2013

    I have heard that kid say one too many times "you're not even a real adult; your car is full of garbage and shoes". I do not think I will be watching.

  • Silver_Sword_14 Jul 10, 2013

    Ohhhhh, Malin Akerman... lose the supporting cast, and just give me 22 solid minutes of dat fine ass!

  • dodge_hickey Aug 16, 2013

    Word!

  • No1Slayerette Jul 09, 2013

    I'll doubt I'll watch, but having watched the trailer it doesn't look too bad.

    While I don't watch Modern Family, The Middle or Suburgatory, I've checked out enough if them to know ABC tends to always have a staple of 'solid' comedies on the network, so like Tim said, I could see this becoming a nice second-tier comedy for the network.

  • JT_Kirk Jul 08, 2013

    Still passing. Marcia Gay Harden really grates on my nerves, her every acting beat feels like like it was forced through a fine mesh screen twice before being concentrated into scene-chewing hamfistery. Also, this preview lacks details about Whitford and Akerman's interactions, something the trailers also failed to suggest, and considering the title of the series it sets Whitford up to be a douchebag from the outset, so that was the only relationship worth talking about and they missed the boat. Oh, also it's another lameo family sitcom.

  • modernfamily120 Jul 08, 2013

    Wow, I'm surprised that this one is better than About a Boy. I thought it would be a little bit worse than About a Boy.

  • pcsjunior002 Jul 08, 2013

    Enough good things here that I shall definitely give it a shot even if it doesn't end becoming the next great family comedy. These days, the best family comedy in my book is probably "The Middle", since "Modern Family" fell hard and fast, and most of the rest are a little too far removed from that area to be referred to as a "family comedy" with "Raising Hope" focusing more on the odd and "Suburgatory" just kind of losing steam in the main relationship. So even if it isn't perfect, as long as it's good, I will probably be on board.

  • modernfamily120 Jul 08, 2013

    I agree with you, although I still consider Modern Family to be on top, as it was only this last season that fell. I hope that season 5 will be good. The Middle definitely is number two though.

  • zeofan1 Jul 08, 2013

    Modern Family stopped being funny after season 1.

  • modernfamily120 Jul 08, 2013

    Season 1 was the funniest season, but season 3 was also very good, aside from a few not-good episodes, and season 2 was pretty good. And, although season 4 was definitely the worst season, it had the best Modern Family episode yet, Schooled (S4E2).

  • zeofan1 Jul 08, 2013

    It's a bit like Full House. There isn't really any growth that isn't already built into the story by virtue of nature.

  • modernfamily120 Jul 08, 2013

    To "You seem biased. Modern Family got stagnant by virtue of its formula. :x"

  • zeofan1 Jul 08, 2013

    To which?

  • modernfamily120 Jul 08, 2013

    @zeofan1
    Huh?

  • zeofan1 Jul 08, 2013

    You seem biased. Modern Family got stagnant by virtue of its formula. :x

  • WavSlave Jul 08, 2013

    Malin has indeed done some wickedly hilarious work on the great Childrens Hospital (returning in just another couple of weeks or so to [adult swim], by the way!) and I've always enjoyed Brad's work, so I'll definitely check this one out when the time comes.

  • Dudekotka Jul 08, 2013

    My judging of this show based on reading this article:
    Reading the title, I thought "NO THANKS ABC"
    Then I saw Malin Akerman and suddenly that turned into "SURE I'LL GIVE IT A CHANCE ABC"
    Then Bradley Whitford, and that turned into "I'LL GIVE IT TEN EPISODES"

  • Chocolatier Jul 08, 2013

    haha! I had exactly the same thought process. I went from nothing, to oh yeh Malin Akerman, to HOLY CRAP Bradley Whitford - which means I'll definitely be watching.

    Also I reckon it should say Bradley Whitford ( The West Wing) instead of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip haha.

  • sleepy-sonic Jul 08, 2013

    I give it five percent chance of survival.