With a title like Trophy Wife, ABC's new comedy may surprise you by actually being a family comedy, rather than a romantic one. But that's not the only place it will surprise you. With the voice of Sarah Haskins infused into three big personality female characters, Trophy Wife is out to present some of the most interesting and funniest women on television. The show certainly centers on one title character (Malin Akerman's Kate), but it is her dynamic and differences to supporting ladies Marcia Gay Harden and Michaela Watkins that make this show the most fun.
Akerman may be young, and she may be blonde (especially when next to Bradley Whitford), but she's not dumb. Nor should you expect her Trophy Wife character to be. Although her Kate is years younger than new husband Pete (Whitford), she isn't there just to be a pretty woman on his arm, even if the title might suggest otherwise. But all of Kate's eagerness to fit into this crazy family (two ex-wives and a gaggle of kids, including one who is adopted) will cause a lot of the conflict and the comedy within the show. The pilot proves this by taking one of her casual, conversational anecdotes and spinning it into (admittedly obvious) plot point to show just how big the learning curve will be for Kate-- but also how devoted she is to mastering it.
The spotlight is certainly on Akerman in the pilot of Trophy Wife, and she is asked to take big swings from almost burning down the kitchen to shotgunning a water bottle full of vodka to commenting on her own breast size, but she never does it in an over-the-top sitcomy way, and there is a sense of innocence to her that endears you to her right away. She certainly gets into some crazy things in the pilot, but so does Pete, in a storyline separate from Kate's that has him and one of his exes (Watkins) trying to cover up an incident with a pet that they assume will cause a child meltdown. Apart, Kate and Pete's lives have a sense of chaos to them, but when they come together at the end of the day, there is a sense of calm and comfort that surrounds. They balance each other well, and they balance the show well, too. We don't get to watch Kate and Pete fall in love on Trophy Wife, instead joining what feels like a well-established relationship already years in.
The family in Trophy Wife is certainly a blended one-- and a surprisingly close one at that. The kids are all kind of hammy in their own ways, which is to be expected of kids in general, let alone kids in single-camera comedies who have been training for bigger, broader things. Harden and Watkins as Pete's first two wives who, despite their spiritual differences, actually seem to be decent friends are top notch, though. Harden is stoic and commands every scene, while Watkins plays a nice combination of a woman who's flighty but also wants to be the center of attention. Perhaps it's a case of time uniting them, or perhaps they've just banded together to stand strong against the new wife in town. Either way, watching the kinks and the quirks of those women relate to each other is going to be very telling-- and enjoyable. They are the kind of women who normally wouldn't take the time to find common ground, but they have Pete between them, and the same can be said of them and Kate. They're all so different that this combined unit shouldn't work, but there is deep love for the unit overall that just somehow makes it so. In a way, that's Trophy Wife in a nutshell.
Trophy Wife premieres on ABC on September 24 2013 at 9:30 p.m. but you can watch the pilot in full right now on http://watchabc.go.com/ and the WATCH ABC app for smart phones and tablets.
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