Rec Me Friday: Trophy Wife
Another Rec Me Friday, another good comedy stuck with a misleading title.
REC ME FRIDAY: 2014'S BEST FAMILY COMEDY
TROPHY WIFE | Season 1
ABC, Now canceled because ABC is the worst
Marcia Gay Harden,
They say the third time's the charm, and reformed party girl Kate is hoping that's true when she becomes Pete's third wife. She fell into his arms (literally) at a karaoke bar, and a year later Kate's got an insta-family, complete with three stepchildren and two ex-wives.
Diane is ex-wife number one, an intense, over-achieving doctor and the mother of twin teenagers Hillary and Warren. Diane is quick to convey her withering disapproval of Kate's barely tapped maternal instinct. Ex-wife number two, Jackie, is mother to adopted son Bert, and can pull Pete's strings with her special blend of neurotic, new-ageyness. Juggling all this baggage is uncharted territory for Kate, who finds support with her best friend Meg, a party-hearty singleton and the only woman Kate knows who has less experience with kids than she has.
So, everything about this show from its title to its premise makes the show look like it's merely about Malin Ackerman being just a hot party-girl trophy wife.
But Kate Harrison isn't a trophy wife. Yes, she's beautiful and significantly younger than Peter and likes wearing short shorts but Kate makes it clear from the beginning that she's eager to take on the role as mother. In fact, considering all the children already have very active and present mothers, it would be extremely easy for Kate to be some empty ornament of a mother figure. Instead, she becomes determined to be prove herself a real member of the Harrison family who is ready to take the new responsibilities of motherhood. Of course, she struggles and makes mistakes along the way but who doesn't?
With her husband, Pete (Bradley Whitford) the two are probably the most level headed members of the dysfunctional Harrison family. They have their silly moments as well but the couple balance out the Harrison family's crazy antics just like they balance out each other. Kate and Pete present a good marriage where Kate helps Pete be a little more spontaneous and Pete helps Kate come to terms with being older and maybe a little boring.
Marcia Gay Harden plays Diane, Pete's first wife and mother to his two kids. As Diane, the controlling and perfectionist surgeon, Harden is great to watch. At times, Diana may seem a little too cold and judgmental as she chastises the rest of the adults but Harden adds a touch of vulnerability to Diane. Diane clearly cares about all of the Harrison children and even the adults despite her condescending insults.
Harden's brilliant deadpan humor works so well against some of Diane's schemes such as posing as a teenage girl online in order to encourage her son to study more. Also, she dressed up as
for Halloween and played Olivia Pope in the show's
montage. How much more amazing can she be?
Then there's Jackie, Pete's second ex-wife and mother of their adopted son. Jackie is the complete opposite to Diana with her kooky and free spirited behavior. It took me a while to warm up to Jackie because I thought she was a little too eccentric to the point of being seemingly unaware of social boundaries but now I find Jackie's hijinks hilarious. She's completely unpredictable and it's so fun to watch. You never know what she's about to do next.
And of course, if their mothers are little out there but still lovable, the Harrison children are exactly the same. Hillary (Bailee Wilson) is basically a mini version of Diana but with more teenage anxieties. Meanwhile, her brother Warren (Ryan Lee) is wacky, naive, and a little clueless. Things like a teenage slang and high school stereotypes simply go over his head and it's so endearing.
Hands down, the best Harrison child and my favorite character on the show is Bert though. Albert Tsui steals every scene he's in. I seriously want to take Bert home with me as my little brother because he is adorable and hilarious. Although he certainly has his silly childish moments, Bert consistently makes it clear he's older and smarter than he seems. With his wardrobe of dress shirts and khaki's, Bert effortlessly bribes his peers and tricks adults.
If you can only check out one episode of Trophy Wife, seriously make it the show's Halloween episode because it is absolutely hysterical. Surely,
scene is worth it alone! And because Bert is always the best, the scene closes with Jackie trying to get Bert to leave his room and Bert telling his mother he has to iron clothes. I'm silently snickering just remembering the scene. Tsui deserve to be in more comedies because he's unbelievably funny at such a young age.One of the many many things I love about Bert's character is that the show never makes any jokes about his heritage or status as an adopted child. In the pilot, Bert spends about a sentence explaining he was adopted from China and that's it. Unlike ABC's
, audiences don't need to be constantly reminded of Bert's background. Bert is just like any other child in the family. I like to think that if the show continued, its writers would have paid some respect to Bert's Chinese heritage and perhaps even acknowledge any problems he might encounter outside of the home as an adopted POC child. But even if the show didn't, Trophy Wife's treatment of Bert is nice after watching
constantly poke fun at Lily's Asian background.
isn't perfect. It has some hit or miss episodes and could have really benefited from better development for its recurring story-lines of Kate trying to find a purpose and Pete struggling with the ethics of being a corporate lawyer but it is ultimately, very entertaining. With a talented cast skilled at comedic timing, the show manages to be heartwarming and silly without being cheesy and over the top. The pilot tries a little too hard but the following episodes are great fun.It's a shame ABC canceled
because after giving up Modern Family, I haven't seriously enjoyed any other family comedy. The show is rather similar to
in many respects but without
's cheesy voice over endings and stereotypical punchlines. I really believe the show would have gotten even better with another season. I guess, I can only hope another network will pick it up. After ABC axing
, it's really hard getting attached to ABC comedies.Still, Trophy Wife is absolutely worth a watch if you want an extremely funny and cute family comedy. Just writing this post has prompted me to do a season rewatch.