ABC may have found his next big family comedy – and his secret weapon is a man best known for a show about dick graffiti.
Household economy, which premieres Wednesday, starts from a simple premise: three siblings, each with very different incomes, navigate their complicated financial relationship to stay connected as a family. Topher Grace, following on from his run as endearing dweeb Eric Forman on That ’70s show, anchors this new series as wet blanket older brother Tom Hayworth. The improbably lovable Jimmy Tatro, best known for his side-splitting turn as Dylan Maxwell in American vandal, Tom’s insanely rich little brother Connor plays, while Caitlin McGee plays their eldest sister Sarah – who, recently out of work, struggles the most financially. (You can tell by the fact that the apartment she shares with her wife, Denise, is cramped and painted dark green for ultimate griminess; their car also has roll-up windows.)
It’s fascinating to watch this series premiere on ABC about a decade after the network unveiled its Emmys juggernaut Modern family Although it debuted at the height of a global financial downturn in 2009, the mockumentary-style sitcom (which was extremely popular with affluent audiences) focused on the recession-resistant Pritchett family and became a reliable hit with critics and audiences alike for years. . During the Mod FamDuring the reign, the sitcom genre seemed to follow suit, at least on air, until Donald Trump’s 2016 election sparked renewed interest in the working class.
Unlike the Pritchetts, Household economyHayworths thinks about money. While Tom, a struggling novelist, turns himself up to ask his absurdly wealthy little brother for a loan, Sarah scoffs at the idea that their ultra-rich brother would be quarantined at his old Seattle mansion – where his pool boy became a TikTok influencer . The show deals with class tensions with a light touch and wisely uses its genre identity to imbue these awkward conversations with humor and humanity. The early episodes sparkle with promise, thanks in large part to the cast’s easygoing chemistry – all of whom seem to understand their assignments perfectly.
It’s hard to imagine anyone other than Grace – who is both executive producing and starring – playing Tom with such sweet, but obnoxious ease. (“I won the most promising debut novel at the Nantucket Book Festival 2009, non-fantasy or science fiction,” says Tom at one point. “I think I can handle a wedding toast.”) Like Eric Forman, Tom is kindhearted, a bit picky and deeply insecure. His wife, Marina, played by a delightfully sardonic Karla Souza, is a retired lawyer who, despite the family’s financial troubles, mostly listens to murder podcasts and wonders aloud if she should go back to work. (I mean … probably ?!) The two share a daughter, Camila, and a twin couple.
McGee, meanwhile, makes all the right comedy notes as the unemployed older sibling who just wants to prove she still knows best (even if she doesn’t). Writers Michael Colton and John Aboud also clearly know what they have in supporting player Sasheer Zamata, who plays Sarah’s wife, Denise – a down-to-earth, astrology-obsessed earth sign who just wants her in-laws to unwind. Their kids, Kelvin and Shamiah, usually spend their time roasting Sarah when her antics get out of hand.
But it’s Tatro who, in each of the three episodes made available for review, reliably walks away with the show. The actor’s charisma makes his one percent character, who likes nothing more than to remind people that he bought his palatial home from Matt Damon, to be just too silly to hate.
It doesn’t hurt that, as we learn early on, Connor is also getting a divorce – forcing him to reevaluate his life and come up with such nasty things as what he calls “ the custody sitch ” with his daughter Gretchen. Tatro never loses sight of his clueless character’s heart, leaving scenes like one of his character desperately singing away his grief to the tune of Flo-Rida’s “Low,” as strangely charming as they cringe.
The series unfolds in chapters as Tom clandestinely turns his family’s story into a book. Fortunately, Tom’s story is scarce, so the well-known gimmick cannot catch up with the series. It’s unclear how long we’ll have to wait for Tom to reveal his plans to the family – but given how invested he seems to be in keeping it a secret, it seems inevitable that a reckoning is on the way. Hopefully Connor isn’t too upset when the larger clan finds out; after all, he just lent Tom a considerable sum to keep his family afloat.
It’s unclear how long we’ll have to wait for Tom to reveal his plans to the family – but given how invested he seems to be in keeping it a secret, it seems inevitable that a reckoning is on the way.
Which brings us to perhaps the only weak link in this series: while Souza gets the most out of her role, Marina feels underdeveloped. It is unclear why, given the family’s apparent money troubles, the retired lawyer did not seriously consider returning to her practice. The series nods to Souza’s Mexican roots by allowing her to toast her TV guy in English and Spanish with their bilingual daughter – and greeting her in-laws in broken Spanish – but we know little about Marina outside of her ancestry and her apparent drinking problem. (As the episodes go on, Marina’s only calling card becomes the never-ending parade of wine glasses in her hand – a tired trope that wears out quickly.) Hopefully Souza has more interesting work to do in future episodes.
Sarah and Denise’s offspring can also fall under a complicated light. While many of the jokes feel organic at their expense – like Sarah insisting she doesn’t like astrology, while Denise replies, “ That’s a very Capricorn thing to say ” – other jabs, like when their kids have a cousin Asking what pronouns her dolls use, feel a little more focused. Overall, however, the two are the most fascinating couple in the series, and McGee and Zamata bounce off each other with ease, especially as their characters spar over the cultural value of the show. Say yes to the dress.
It’s impossible to say for now whether this charming sitcom will rise to the fame of predecessors like Modern family. But the soft-focus exploration of class feels like fertile ground for a 2021 TV sitcom – and the smart casting, specific yet flexible premise, and focus on the heart all feel good with the money.