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'Trophy Wife' Pilot Review: Malin Akerman Shines In A New Take On An Old Premise

'Trophy Wife' Pilot Review: Malin Akerman Shines In A New Take On An Old Premise

09/24/2013

Trophy Wife, a new show that takes a somewhat different spin on the non-traditional family sitcom, premieres tonight on ABC. Unique or blended families have been the basis for half-hour sitcoms for as long as most of us can remember. The Brady Bunch, Diff'rent Strokes, Who's the Boss, Kate and Allie, Step by Step, and of course the beloved multi-Emmy winning stroke of genius that is Modern Family (congrats to their recent Emmy win for Best Comedy Series).

The protagonist of Trophy Wife is Kate, played by the likeable knockout Malin Akerman. Kate is newly married to Pete, played by frequent television star Bradley Whitford. What makes Kate and Pete special? Pete was married before. Twice. And has children from both marriages. And they all see each other every day and its now one big dysfunctional happy family.

That's the premise for the show: how a party girl falls in love with a twice-divorced man with a whole lot of baggage, and how this baggage fills their lives with funny scenarios and lots of love. Marcia Gay Harden stars as Pete's first ex-wife, the Type A, intense and icy surgeon Diane, while Michaela Watkins is Wife No. 2, the hippie dippie, airhead Jackie. The rest of the happy "home" includes Pete’s twins from the first marriage and an adopted son from the second.

The premiere episode introduced the setup and featured one bit that I found particularly laugh-out-loud funny. Being the very recently-reformed party girl that she is, Kate mistakenly tells Pete's typically exasperated teenage daughter how she used to smuggle vodka in to concerts in water bottles. Later on, Kate sees the daughter and her friends in the school parking lot, water bottles full. Kate approaches her about it right as Bio Mom Diane walks over. Diane wants a drink of water from the bottle. To save her stepdaughter, Kate chugs the whole bottle. She may or may not end up hammered. Ackerman's face after swallowing what would have been an obscene amount of vodka was perfect and hilarious. She alone could make the show worth watching.

Pete and Kate make an excellent television couple. After just a few minutes, I was already rooting for this couple and looking forward to spending time with them. What the pilot lacks, and what I'm guessing the first season will fill us in on in future episodes, is understanding how this family came to be in the first place. Other reviewers have said that the whole premise seems a bit unbelievable, that Pete would had even married these other women for any reason other that a funny sitcom setup. Could a man have more of a varying partner type? The show will need to convince us that these people could ever be part of the same family.

Pete and Kate are charming and believably in love. Akerman is spot on in her role and the other actors do a good job as well. If the show fails, it would be due to poor writing, and no fault of the A-list cast. But I'm optimistic that this will be a new funny show to add to your weekly TV-watching agenda, at least for now.

Trophy Wife airs Tuesdays on ABC, 9:30 pm.

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