A quirky, non-traditional family works together to raise a precocious child with some help from their off-beat friends, including awkward co-workers and non-threatening exes. Sounds a lot like Raising Hope or The New Normal or the late Ben and Kate, all of which have obviously influenced ABC's new midseason comedy How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life), right down to the sexual grandmas (and great-grandmas) and the indulgent (usually-in-a-good-way-but-sometimes-in-a-creepy-way) parents.
Single parents navigating the waters of child-rearing with a little backup from their zany families and friendlies aren't anything new to television, but unlike police procedurals and Grey's Anatomy wannabes, I don't think we can necessarily have too many of them because, you know, different strokes and all that. But how will this one measure up? I've seen the pilot and I'm ready to tell you just that.
Obnoxious title aside (we'll get to that in a few), what's HTLWYPFTROYL about?
Scrubs alum Sarah Chalke plays Polly, an uptight mom who left her lovable loser husband Julian (Jon Dore of The Jon Dore Television Show) to move back in with her free spirit parents, Elaine and Max (Weeds' Elizabeth Perkins Everybody Loves Raymond's Brad Garrett, respectively). Along for the ride are Polly's scared-of-everything daughter, Natalie (relative newcomer Rachel Eggleston), and Polly's twenty-something co-worker/bestie, Jenn (Friday Night Lights' Stephanie Hunt). Polly wants to be a better mother to Natalie than Elaine was to her, but the debate over what actually makes a good mother is one of those debates that is clearly meant to be a theme of the show.
Who decided that a series with a title that's harder to remember when it's shortened was a good idea?
Claudia Lonow, primarily known as Diana Fairgate on Knots Landing, but who also claims producing credits on Less Than Perfect and Cashmere Mafia, created the series and serves as an executive producer alongside Brian Grazer (Arrested Development, 24, Friday Night Lights, Parenthood) and Francie Calfo (The Playboy Club, Scoundrels).
When does HTLWYPFTROYL air?
Wednesdays at 9:30pm, starting April 3 on ABC.
Will I like HTLWYPFTROYL?
If you like Raising Hope, you might like How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life). It's the latest in a long line of goofy-but-has-a-heart sitcoms about an entire village of oddballs getting together to raise a cute kid. Weeds fans will definitely see flashes of Celia in Perkins' Elaine. Chalke's Polly is basically Elliot with a kid. There are raunchy lines combined with situations to accommodate your saccharine family moments, so it's not a complete cheese-fest. It's just one of those shows that if you like that sort of show, then you'll probably like it. If quirky family sitcoms make you want to scream, I'd spare your vocal chords and steer clear.
What's good about HTLWYPFTROYL?
The casting is solid, boasting a strong ensemble of comedy and dramedy veterans, so chemistry, delivery, and all the other good things that make a cast fun to watch aren't really an issue. The writing (at least in the first episode) is strong. Everybody is pretty lovable, including the supposedly horrific parents Polly moves back in with. The pilot balances funny sitcom stuff with the heavier family themes pretty well. If the show can maintain that balance, I think How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life) might eventually overcome its awful, cringey title. Or maybe the title will work in the show's favor; I went in expecting crap and was pleasantly surprised to get something better.
What's bad about HTLWYPFTROYL (other than the title)?
No, actually we need to talk about the title because the mouthful is so ridiculous and cumbersome that I think it could easily repel potential viewers with its impressive ridiculousness. How to Live With Your Parents alone might have sufficed, and honestly, that's what I personally call it when I'm not trying to masochistically sound out something resembling a word when forced to resort to an acronym that looks like it might actually be the name of some sort of new pharmaceutical drug. But even How to Live With Your Parents on it's own doesn't fully convey what the show is about. It's not about a grumpy teenager who rebels against her curfew and cries because Daddy didn't buy her an iPhone 5 as soon as it came out. It's not about twenty-something recent grads forced to bunk in Mom's basement because the job market blows and, in retrospect, majoring in Napoleonic French history with a concentration in poetry and a minor in Sociology probably wasn't the wisest career move.
There are also visual references that pop up throughout the pilot in the form of arrows pointing to new faces, with nifty introductions and explanations of who they are and what they do. Personally, I think they're a cute way to avoid getting bogged down in exposition, but I can see how they might get annoying in the long run (if they last). The shortcut can also be frustrating if you're not the type of viewer who parks it on the sofa and doesn't move for the entire duration of an episode since they kind of require you to, you know, pay attention.
And finally, I don't know how long Polly's anal-retentive, clingy, helicopter parenting can go on before it turns her into "the annoying one" in the cast.
Do you recommend watching HTLWYPFTROYL?
I'd give it a shot. I've only seen the pilot, so I can't vouch for long-term enjoyment, but I enjoyed the pilot. There's nothing particularly groundbreaking here, but it's a seems like an enjoyable series if you like types of shows it's descended from.
Where can I sample this hellish acronym action for myself?
There are some clips on Hulu, and here's a trailer:
What beverages should I have on hand if I decide to tune in to HTLWYPFTROYL?
Elaine suggests a morning tequila and Max claims that the blue pills are the fun ones. I would stick to one or the other unless, you decide halfway through that you don't want to remember what you're watching.
How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life) premieres Wednesday, April 3 at 9:30pm on ABC.