The best part about airing on cable is that you can do whatever you want. Okay, that's not really true—you still can't get naked or drop unlimited F-bombs (unless you're on HBO or Showtime)—but cable does have a lot of things going for it. Not only are the shorter seasons generally considered an improvement over the lengthier ones on broadcast, but since cable networks don't necessarily follow the timeline as broadcast, they can debut new shows in late April without having them labeled as burn-offs that weren't good enough to make the fall or early midseason schedule. Which brings me to Playing House, a new scripted comedy that premieres this week on USA. Read on to find out whether it's worth checking out, or if you're better off catching up on House Hunters International.
Playing House? Lemme guess, this is a show about playing house?
That's a very astute observation! Yes, the series is about two people living together and raising a family together, but the catch is that it's a buddy comedy about a pair of childhood best friends named Maggie and Emma. After a very pregnant Maggie discovers that her husband's been having an online affair with a husky German woman, Maggie kicks him out, and Emma decides to pack up her successful career in Shanghai to return to the gals' small Connecticut hometown to help Maggie raise the baby, because that's what friends are for. Naturally, the duo's different attitudes and temperaments (Emma is an extroverted, pushy, assertive person, while Maggie's calmer and more rational) play off each other in a way that makes it easy to see why they're BFFs.
Who built Playing House, and who lives in it?
The architects and the residents are one and the same. Real-life best friends and writing partners Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair—who you may remember from NBC's short-lived and very similar comedy Best Friends Forever—created, wrote, and star in Playing House. Parham plays soon-to-be mom Maggie, while St. Clair (who also recurs on Veep, as Dana, and Comedy Central's Review, as Forrest's wife Suzanne) stars as Emma, Maggie's single, career-oriented best friend. Keegan-Michael Key (the Key half of Key & Peele) stars opposite the duo as Mark, Emma's ex-boyfriend and a local cop. He's the straight man to Parham and St. Clair's antics. The series also boasts some great guest appearances, including Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm in the Middle) as Emma's mom, Zach Woods (Silicon Valley, The Office) as Maggie's brother, and Lindsay Sloane (lots of stuff, including The League, Psych, and Sabrina, The Teenage Witch) as Mark's wife Tina.
When do we start Playing House?
Playing House premieres with back-to-back episodes on Tuesday, April 29 at 10pm on USA.
Who might enjoy Playing House?
Fans of Best Friends Forever, obviously, but also fans of buddy comedies, and shows featuring strong female friendships.
What makes Playing House worth the mortgage payment?
Not only is the show seriously funny, it's a series starring two women who are best friends and who don't secretly hate each other/aren't competing for the same man. It's not like there aren't any strong female friendships on TV, but more often than not, they're overshadowed by romantic drama or the search for a husband. And that's why Playing House's central focus on a real, honest friendship feels like the rarest of rare gems. No one bats an eye when yet another series about bromances comes along, but Playing House finally gets female friendships right, and that's definitely worth noting. Also, did I mention the show is funny? Because it is!
Are there any cracks in Playing House's foundation?
The only thing working against Playing House is its network. USA isn't exactly known for its half-hour comedies, although it's certainly making strides to change that. Playing House comes right on the heels of Denis Leary's hilarious Sirens, and both are funny in their own way, but Playing House is a bit more family friendly, which will hopefully make it more accessible.
So, should I watch it?
Feel free to hit the "Series record" option on your DVR. Playing House is a keeper.
Can I see a trailer?
Playing House premieres Tuesday, April 29 at 10pm on USA.