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ABC (ended 2014)

Trophy Wife S01E01: "Pilot"

Guess what? People are getting divorced! A lot! Some people are getting divorced multiple times! You may have gotten a divorce just this afternoon. Divorces can be messy things that tear families apart. But one thing divorces are great for are family comedies. Let's be honest with each other here, family comedies have gotten pretty boring because who has a traditional family like the ones we usually see on TV (father, mother, son, daughter) anymore? Stepmothers and half-brothers are the new fathers and sisters, and what about all those kids from foreign countries that people are adopting? Where's the family comedy that represents that?

Modern Family and its cross-sectioned examination of today's families (there's even a gay couple on that one) is a monster hit and Emmy-award vortex for ABC, so it's totally understandable that the network would want to plow that field again in hopes of sprouting another family comedy that's more representative of how things are today. The network has it in Trophy Wife, one of the more pleasant surprises of this season's slate of new comedies. And I really do mean "pleasant." Trophy Wife isn't milk-out-the-nose funny, but you'll find yourself smirking for about 30 minutes with sporadic chuckles, making it a lot better than most of the other stuff out there. 

If you just want to know what the show is about, allow me to summarize: Malin Akerman (Childrens Hospital) plays Kate, a younger gal who does totally fun things like karaoke. During a particularly inspired rendition of "Jump" (Pointer Sisters, not Van Halen or Kris-Kross, just one of the many good decisions this show made its pilot), Kate falls over a railing and breaks the nose of Pete (Bradley Whitford), who's an old man by comparison. Wham bam thank you ma'am, and next thing you know, they're married. Pete comes with tons of baggage, though, in the form of two ex-wives (Marcia Gay Harden's Dr. Diane and Michaela Watkins' space-cadet Jackie), two teenaged step-children through Diane, and one adopted Chinese boy through Jackie. It's like a family exploded three times, and Trophy Wife is presumably about how Kate will manage being a new (step-)mom in this unusual (but increasingly more common) family dynamic.

But where other slap-happy comedies would take this setting and this cast of characters and make a ridiculous show full of spiteful ex-wives and out-of-control kids and probably an old dog that pees everywhere, Trophy Wife portrays an expanded family unit that works together. They don't hate each other! Whaaaat? '90s sitcom writers are groaning in their graves. You see, this ex-step-in-law ball of confusion might be a little weird to us, but it's life for Kate, Pete, Diane, Jackie, and the kids. No biggie. The typical chaos we're familiar with based on other family comedies is there, and it's even multiplied due to the size of this particular family, but it's not hampered by the typical evilness of the typical television ex-wife, or by deep-seeded hatred between various family members. No, this is a celebration of family and that is entirely what makes Trophy Wife work. 

Trophy Wife is also smartly paced. Think about all the stories that were going on in the series premiere: Kate got drunk protecting Hillary, Warren was crushing on some milky grapefruits and that resulted in a school meeting with parents, Pete and Jackie blew up Bert's hamster, and Kate had something to prove to both Hillary and Diane. And somewhere, the story of how this family came to be had to be explained, too. But each thread worked on its own and came together in one great big family hug at the end, and it wasn't at all reliant on Kate being some sort of supermom. Trophy Wife could have easily saddled Kate with all the responsibility, forced her to be the family problem-fixer, but it wisely just slid Kate into the equation of a family that was already running pretty well. And thank you, ABC, for giving us a sitcom that doesn't try too hard to beat us over the head with shoehorned jokes. Story is more important with Trophy Wife, and it finds ways to add laughs as it goes. 

I have zero complaints about the cast, and I've been very vocal about how much I love Michaela Watkins as Jackie (her subtle humor and deadpan is hilarious). Akerman is impossible not to like, and Whitford is surprisingly restrained as the old sturdy oak at the center of the family. He has the ability to open up, though, so I expect him to get wackier and invoke the spirit of his Billy Madison character as the series progresses. Harden has the toughest job of everyone in the group as stickler Diane—here's hoping that the writers can somehow throw some comedy her way. And the kids are good. Ryan Lee, who you know from Community and maybe Workaholics, can bring his teeth to any scene. And I'll just put myself out there and say I think Albert Tsai as Bert is one of the delights of the fall season. He's just precocious enough. 

So yeah, Trophy Wife is off to a great start and—double-check your Dead Pool alert!—if things stay somewhat consistent, should be one of this season's surviving shows. Now go give your family a hug.


NOTES

– "Hey are you, uhhh, excited about Daylight's Savings?" Solid pickup line for all you single people out there.

– For all you continuity sticklers, check out the varying volume of water in the vodka water bottle when Kate drinks it! If it had been full, like it was at some points, Kate would have died. Trophy Wife would have been a very different show.

– Do you like Bert, or does he annoy the shit out of you?

– What is your family dynamic like? 

– How many divorces have you had?

– I'd still like to see this anchored behind Modern Family on Wednesday nights, where it belongs; Tuesday is going to be a tough night for it. The post-ModFam spot is currently occupied by Super Fun Night—barf—and ABC seems committed the idea that Rebel Wilson's new sitcom is somehow funny. 

– Confession: I don't hate the show's title as much as everyone else does! What's your take?

Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 5/13/2014

Season 1 : Episode 22

37 Comments
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I feel it is a mistake to cancel this show. I did not watch from the beginning due to the title. It is very misleading. Great comedy. I love, love, love it. Did not advertise it enough either. I have one station on TV but I have Hulu Plus. I would just pass it over until my daughter told me how funny it was. Sorry you did not give it a chance. Cast is great; thank you so much for the laughs.
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You really REALLY shouldn't spoil future episodes in the comment sections of episode specific reviews. If I read this now, it's probably because this is how far I've gotten. I know nothing about uteruses (uteri?) or salsa plotlines. Yet.
So thanks.
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Oh no, I'm so sorry!! Point taken. Enjoy the show :-)
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One of the my favorites of the new season. Like a combination of Modern Family and Parenthood. They seriously should have paired it with Modern Family. WTF ABC? It doesn't fit the tone of any other show from that night.
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Enjoyed it more than I expected, It felt a bit forced at points and I hope the voice over was a pilot thing only because the show doesn't really need it. Let's see how episode 2 goes.
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It was brilliant! I actually laughed ! I hope they keep up the balance in the next episode.
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Me too. And I laughed the loudest at Kate gulping down the vodka, and her expressions afterwards!
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The show had more positives than negatives, I'll give it the four episode test.
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It was totally fine. Bradley Whitford is awesome, I'm a huge fan of him from his West Wing and Studio 60 days, and he brings a lot of the same to this role. And Malin Akerman is very funny and charismatic without being over the top with it. I was a little worried at first that she would bring more of a Children's Hospital style of comedy to this show, which while hilarious, is inappropriate for what they're trying to accomplish. The kids, however, especially the youngest, did grate on me a bit. The older one was fine, but as they decreased in age they got more annoying. Perhaps if the youngest one didn't yell as much?

I'm not sure this is the type of show up my alley, but I'll watch it again next week barring some sporting event preventing me from it. I don't think it will be appointment television but I wouldn't complain watching it if nothing else is on.
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Off to a great start. I'll keep watching this one.

From first glance Bert seems to have a bunch of annoying kid character qualities, but I somehow ended up really liking him. A funny kid.
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I didn't watch it but it sounds like a new version of Modern Family.
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"Warren was crushing on some milky grapefruits" If that's a sexual metaphor, it's not one I'm familiar with...
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First of all, Malin Akerman is gorgeous! Okay, so now that that's out of the way.

I think what will great about this show is the fact that Kate is not exactly a genius. What I mean is that she is warm and centred and won't over-think things when faced with a crisis. Why did she did she drink the water bottle of vodka? The cynical answer would be that she wanted acceptance. To me, she did it so her new step-daughter wouldn't get into trouble. As a matter of fact, Hilary copped to it so Kate could save face. I thought this was done sincerely.

I also enjoyed Jackie. I look forward to seeing the development of her character.

I find the show title ironic. I think we'll find out that Kate is not just arm candy.
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At some point, I must have set my expectations a little too high for this show because I found it disappointing.
Definite one-and-done...
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Guess what? People are getting divorced! A lot! Some people are getting divorced multiple times! You may have gotten a divorce just this afternoon.

I DID just get divorced this afternoon!!! I'm kidding. Hilariously, though, I don't disagree, this is a new modern family. I am one of 5. Though three are my half-siblings (we have the same dad) I am 19 years and 11 months older than my youngest sibling. SHE is close to the same age as my step-daughter, who is 11 1/2 years older than her half sister (my daughter) and SHE also has another half sister who is 8 years older than her! Confused yet?

I had fun with this show. For a pilot that had to establish the story, it wasn't too bad. I actually liked Bert, at least his manipulation to get his toy.

The best part was the end. NOT because it was the end, but the hide a key extravaganza was freaking hilarious.

The title doesn't really bother me.
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Here it is, after watching Dads, Mom, The Goldbergs & Brooklyn 911 and promptly removing them from my DVR queue, I was beginning to dismay, but here is the funny!
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I was really surprised by how much I liked this show! I kind of gave up on sitcoms a long time ago, but I had a couple empty tv hours to fill last night, and decided to watch Trophy Wife. I will definitely watch it again.
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I loved the pilot - especially the scenes with Malin Akerman and Marcia Gay Harden. Both actresses are amazing in their roles.

I can't wait for next episode.
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I missed the first 10 minutes so I will have to watch it again later. But from what I saw I thought it was charming and funny. Malin Akerman is so suited for this role.
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so basically you missed half of the show
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Terrible show - and a *great* role model for women /sarcasm.
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I kind of liked it but it lacked the ever so important punch of humor.
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A half hour network comedy that is original and that doesn't suck. Awesome! Marcia Gay Harden is on a role this year - she was the best (too underused) part of Newsroom this season. Bradley Whitford was very good on 'Shameless' this season as well. This show could be a keeper. A lot of female led comedies heading into this season - too bad 'Moms' is same old Chuck Lorre garbage (Allison Janney as one of Whitford's ex wives on this show could have made 'Trophy Wife' legendary). Interested to see what Maggie Lawson's show looks like.
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It's been a while since I seen the pilot so I forgot some things. But I remember the only thing I kinda disliked was the one or two scenes where pretty much the whole cast was talking and yelling over each other. I know it helps portray the hectic and wild life of a guy who still keeps in touch frequently with his ex-wives and has a bunch of kids and a new younger lover, but still, it got a bit annoying and headache-inducing. Otherwise, I quite like it.
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It's such a good show and I just hope it survives. ABC has a history of canceling perfectly good comedies because they put it in an unbearable timeslot..
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I’ve been looking forward to this show a lot and I was not disappointed.
– Haha. What’s even funnier, though, is afterwards he says “an extra hour of sleep” when in reality you get one hour LESS sleep when changing to DST.
– I LOVE Bert.
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extra hour in the fall...
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It was decent. I'll watch again
6/10
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The whole hamster gag was hilarious!
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This is a show I'll be watching OnDemand or Hulu because I got others recording at 8cst. Glad to hear it's off to a good start though.
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