Is it possible to become part of a family and not go insane in the process? That's part of the premise behind ABC's new show "Trophy Wife," which followed one woman's adventure from being a single woman to part of an instant farmily full of problems that she had a hard time fitting into. Despite a familiar premise, the cast seemed game for the most part to make viewers laugh at their own expense.
"Trophy Wife" followed Kate (Malin Akerman) who loved being a single woman willing to party with her best friend Meg (Natalie Morales) at a moment's notice. That all changed when she met Pete (Bradley Whitford) accidentally at a karaoke bar. A year later, she became Pete's third wife and an instant stepmother to three of his children. Of course, her new marriage came with two ex-wives who were completely different from Kate. Pete's first ex-wife Diane (Marcia Gay Harden) was a take charge doctor who always wanted to be in control of everything, which made her clash with Kate's relaxed parenting sensibilities. Diane has made it abundantly clear that she didn't trust Kate to be around her two children: Hillary (Bailee Madison) and Warren (Ryan Lee). Kate tried very hard to be supportive of her teenage stepchildren, but she only managed to get into trouble when they were involved. Hillary tried to emulate Kate by trying to sneak in alcohol to a concert. Kate managed to cover for her stepdaughter but ended being a casualty of her own plan. With Pete's second ex-wife Jackie (Michaela Watkins), Kate had to focus on how she managed to wrap Pete around her finger whenever she needed something. When Jackie needed help trying to spare their son Bert (Albert Tsai) any pain from losing a beloved pet. Will Kate be able to move on from her party girl past or will she revert back to her old ways once again?
In terms of questions, the show seemed to be asking only one question through out the premiere episode as to whether Kate's blended family can survive all of chaos that comes their way. Unfortunately, the series premiere had too many different stories going on that it was hard to find what the show's central focus was trying to go for. It also didn't help that the show didn't have the best title to go on, which wasn't an accurate representation of the show. Akerman's Kate wasn't even presented as a trophy wife because she constantly made mistakes. She managed to get the smoke alarm to go off every time she cooked something for the kids. The family even joked about how one attempt to make breakfast didn't create as much smoke as the last time. The show has got to work on how to balance how much screen time should be devoted to each of Pete's ex-wives to give viewers a better idea of how the family should be represented. Harden's Diane was presented as too much of an overly tough lady who was almost trying doubly hard to be emotionally distant from everyone. Viewers need to see what makes Harden's character tick before they could root for her. Watkins' Jackie was presented as a flightier version of Diane, but she was at least presented as being more than a mere new age type. She had one scene with Whitford as their characters tried to cover up the death of not one but two of their son's pets. It was hysterical to watch two reasonable people acting unreasonable to help their son. When the store attendant told them that they couldn't buy another pet, their desperate expressions were priceless. Let's hope that there are more scenes like this to keep viewers interested.
As for breakout stars, Akerman and Tsai led the pack for very different reasons, but they both helped to make the premiere episode more memorable than it could have been. Akerman embodied Kate with a sense of innocence and reckless abandon that made viewers want to root her, even when Kate's judgment wasn't ideal. On the surface, she was more of a sitcom version to the movie "Bad Teacher" minus some major bad habits, but Akerman made Kate a caring person who get drunk to protect her stepdaughter Hillary from getting into trouble. Akerman's most memorable scene was the aftermath of when Kate was starting to feel the effects of downing a whole water bottle of alcohol. She looked like she was ready to pass out in the car ride home, but the best moment was when the truth was revealed as to why she was drunk. Akerman's response was to literally fall on the floor after she proved Pete's ex-wives wrong. She presented herself as a comedic actress who can make viewers laugh by both spouting off one liners as well as the appropriate amount of physical comedy to balance things out. Tsai, on the other hand, had the difficult task of playing the cute kid card when it has been done before time and time again. He gave Bert the right amount of youthful curiousity and honesty that was able to cut through any deception that his parents or stepmother created to protect him. Tsai was able to tell Morales' Meg that she wasn't the most responsible babysitter that he ever had. He also was able to not overlook the fact that his beloved pet was missing, especially after his parents bought him a puppy to cover it up. Let's hope that the rest of the cast gets a chance to shine in future episodes in an effort to make the show truly a group effort where everyone shared the burden of making people laugh. Only time will tell if that's the case.
"Trophy Wife" premieres on September 24th and airs Tuesdays at 9:30 PM on ABC. Xfinity is currently screening the premiere episode and it's also available on ABC's website until September 17th.
Verdict: Akerman proved to be charming leading lady, but the show might not necessarily be the right avenue to display her talents.
TV Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)