Happy Family

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Chucklehound Entertainment would like to warn our more sensitive reader of some, uh, explicit language below.

Dear NBC,

Fuck you.

Seriously, fuck you.

Ever since Seinfeld went off the air, you have been utterly and completely incapable of creating a decent sitcom. Look at your recent attempts. Good Morning Miami? Whoopi? Coupling? All horrible, horrible shows.

And then, you manage to put Happy Family on the air. Possibly the most mean spirited, misanthropic, spiteful, bitter sitcom on one of the Big 4 networks since... well, since Seinfeld. In short, it was the best sitcom of the season.

Perhaps you've already forgotten the premise of the show. Middle aged couple (played by the wonderfully cynical pair of John Larroquette and Christine Baranski) have three allegedly adult children, none of whom show any interest in actually moving on with their lives. The oldest works for his father and has recently called off his marriage. The middle (played by everyone's favorite Glad spokeswoman and Joyce DeWitt impersonator, Melanie Paxson) insists on coming by the house regularly, while the youngest, having failed out of college, has taken up with the recently divorced, forty-something neighbor. Yeah, I know the setup was a little cumbersome and audiences apparently didn't want to see a movie about a generally creepy April-August relationship, but it allowed for a wonderful wellspring of hostility on the show.

Take the fifth episode, in which Tim, the youngest son, manages to actually get a job scooping frozen yogurt, much to the pride of his parents. His parents question why they are so pleased with Tim's modest success and conclude that, not only do they apparently think their son is an idiot, but that they probably think this because he is, in fact, an idiot. Significantly more hostility than you usually get in a family sitcom.

Of course, the powers that be (which is to say "you") couldn't let this be, presumably because noone was watching the show. Let's get rid of the middle aged love interest, you said. Let's bring in a sassy dental assistant for the oldest son to banter with, you said. Let's generally emasculate the show and hope that what America wants, more than anything, is another bland, forgettable sitcom, you said.

Which is why I feel the need to resort to profanity (as well as sentence fragments). You see, I like to think that my friends and family place some trust in my recommendations. When I take the time to recommend a new show, I like to think that my word means something. If, however, the network decides to undergo a massive retooling of the show in between the time of my recommendation and when people actually get around to watching the show, my word is worthless. My friends and family watch the new, bland Happy Family and say, "Huh?"

I know that you have a hard job as a network programmer. But perhaps you should realize that Happy Family might find a better audience after Frasier instead of after Whoopi. Do you really expect the sass-loving morons who are choosing to watch Whoopi are going to enjoy a relatively subtle comedy? Do you really expect they're going to prefer a remarkably bland pointless show instead?

I guess you do.

So, once again, fuck you.

Rating: C (Was an A prior to retooling)

Reviewed by Padgett Arango
Contents
The Hills Have Eyes 2

Hostel Part II

Six Degrees

Shark

Jericho

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Justice

The Hills Have Eyes

Love Monkey

Out of Practice

Head Cases

Crunchwrap Supreme

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Batman Begins

Garden State

Hero

13 Going On 30

LAX

Starman

quirkyalone.net

Kill Bill, Vol. 2

Line of Fire

We Shall All Be Healed

Happy Family

Arrested Development

Love Actually

A Minute with Stan Hooper

Tarzan

Karen Sisco

Stop All the World Now

Cold Case

Skin

10-8

Joan of Arcadia

Eve

Luis

Lost In Translation

House of 1000 Corpses

Bubba Ho-Tep

Darkness Falls

Pirates of the Caribbean

The Amazing Race

Treasure Island

FearDotCom

Adaptation

To Hit Armor Class Zero

Without A Trace

8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter

Life With Bonnie

Jalapeņo Cheeseburger

The Mothman Prophecies

Happy Campers

The Man Who Wasn't There

Kiss of the Dragon

Josie & the Pussycats

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Dr. Pepper

Know By Heart

Waking Life

L.I.E.

Thirteen Ghosts

Earthlink presents Chang and Eng

New York and Country Bar

Change

Motivation and Water Tower Grammar

Crossing Philly

Makeout Club

Undeclared

The Gap

The Abolition of Work

3000 Miles to Graceland

Kolobos

Duets

The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Diesel Sweeties

The Cold Six Thousand

The Grilled Stuft Burrito (Rebuttal)

60 Second Wipeout

The Patriot

Grilled Stuft Burrito

Cowgirls

Crystalline

Frankenfinger E.P.

One Force Down

Shake

Both Our Secrets

Happy Birthday Captain Columbus!

Fight Club

Whatever It Takes

Committed

That Skinny Motherfucker with the High Voice?

Joe Dirt

The Veggie Whopper

Taco Bell Nachos

Palmetto

Godzilla vs. Monster Zero

The Terror of Mechagodzilla

To The Center

Infiniti+Infiniti

American Psycho

The Del Shredder

What Lies Beneath

The Cheesy Gordita Crunch

Bring It On

Chill Factor

Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars

Bad Company

The Blair Witch Project

Hyacinths and Thistles

Lake of Dracula

We'll Have a Time

Home Depot

Snow Day

The Virgin Suicides