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ABC's 'The Trophy Wife' visits 'Aladdin,' 'Scandal' and 'The Bachelor'

The cast of "The Trophy Wife"
The cast of "The Trophy Wife"

If the title "The Trophy Wife" has kept you from tuning in to the ABC comedy, you should rethink your position because the show isn't really about a trophy wife. Rather it's about new definitions of families, and in this instance it's about a man (Bradley Whitford), his third wife (Malin Ackerman), his children, his exes (Michaela Watkins and Marcia Gay Harden), and how they all come together to try to make it work.

"I think what's underneath the show is a lot of really functional people in a totally dysfunctional situation, who are dealing with it for the kids," Whitford says. "It's obviously an exaggerated, crazy situation, but it's about remaining engaged enough to create this post-modern family."

Tonight's episode is a case in point. When Bert, played by the precocious Albert Tsai, reads 100 books, he earns the birthday party of a lifetime -- and ABC dug into its Disney connection big time with an Aladdin bash that includes a fire eater on stilts, professional dancers, and a visit from the host of ABC's hit reality series, "The Bachelor."

So how did Chris Harrison come to guest on "Trophy Wife?" The answer is surprising.

Executive producer Lee Eisenberg admitted to reporters after a screening of the episode that he is a huge fan of "The Bachelor," so much so that he has screening parties at his house, one of which Harrison attended to do a behind-the-scenes piece. So when the discussion came up in the writers room about having a celebrity drop by the over-the-top party, Harrison's name came up.

"So, we called him and he was completely down [with it]," Eisenberg says. "It was great. And then, I came down to the set because I thought it was cool that he was going to be there. He was talking to Malin and I said, 'Hey Chris, I just want to thank you for doing this,' and, I think, he thought I was in crafts services or something. He said, 'You’re welcome.' Then he immediately turned back to Malin. So, I stood there, awkwardly waiting for him to turn back to me, but he didn’t. And, then, I just shuffled back to the writers room."

Even though the Aladin party is ostensibly a reward for Bert, it is also an excuse for Kate (Ackerman) to try to win over the snobby soccer moms, who have excluded her since she married Pete (Whitford). And just when it looks as if she has succeeded, there is a nice twist to the story -- that I won't spoil by revealing -- that shows that Kate is not as shallow as the title of the series would imply, but really a woman with a big heart.

Also coming up in future episodes of "The Trophy Wife" is an ode to sister network series "Scandal," which involves Diane (Harden) and the PTA.

"We're all Scandal fans and we have an episode coming up that becomes a 'Scandal' parody," says series creator/executive producer Sally Haskins. "Diane has a bit of a failure, which is very unlike her, and she ends up watching a lot of 'Scandal' episodes, and channels her Olivia Pope."

Also coming up is a two-part wedding episode in which Kate discovers Pete's old wedding videos from his marriages to Diane and Jackie (Watkins) in the garage. Since Pete and Kate eloped, Kate decides she wants a wedding, even though she previously thought it was too "girly."

"This is the strongest hint I can send my husband, on national television," jokes Haskins, who like Kate, didn't have a wedding. "I’m like, 'I’d like a wedding. Please watch these two episodes of television.'"

"The Trophy Wife" airs Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. on ABC.

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