ABC’s ‘Housewife’: Timeslot woes outweigh its charm
Network expands comedy block with show about a woman who doesn't fit in
October 11, 2016
One in a series of Media Life previews of the new shows debuting this fall. You can find past previews here.
ABC’s “American Housewife”
Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m., premiering tonight
‘Housewife’ Plot summary
In this comedy, Katie Otto (Katy Mixon, “Mike & Molly”) is the self-described “third-fattest housewife in Westport,” the snooty town where she and her smitten husband move their family of five in order to get better care for their youngest daughter, who has anxiety issues.
Alas, Katie just doesn’t fit in with the yoga-pants-wearing, green-smoothie-drinking moms, who all have perfect bodies to go with their perfect families.
Katie decides to stick it out for the sake of her kids, despite being uncomfortable with the neighborhood. Misadventures and fat jokes commence.
“Housewife’s” executive producers include Aaron Kaplan (“Life in Pieces”) and was created by veteran sitcom writer Sarah Dunn (“Murphy Brown,” “Spin City”).
Putting aside for a moment the fact that this so-called “fat housewife” looks a lot like most normal-sized women, “Housewife” has a couple things going for it.
The biggest is Mixon, who plays Otto as charming, sexy and sassy. She’s the type of character people root for, and “Housewife” is very much in the vein of ABC’s most successful recent comedies.
It’s about a contemporary family with real problems who nonetheless love each other. It’s sweet without being too sappy.
But it also has two major problems. One is the one-note premise (can you really build a show on one character’s insecurity about fitting in, using weight as a metaphor?). That can be overcome with good writing.
The second is its timeslot. That’s tougher to manage.
ABC has been trying to pull off a comedy block on Tuesday nights for years. The network has had one success—“Fresh Off the Boat”—but largely struck out otherwise.
Now it’s expanding its comedy block from one hour to two, and there’s little reason to think “Housewife” will succeed where other sharp comedies—think “Happy Endings”—failed.
It should get an OK lead-in from “The Middle,” which has moved from Wednesday to anchor the night. But against “The Voice,” “NCIS” and “The Flash,” that may not be enough to keep “Housewife” alive.
What media people say
Buyers have low hopes for the show.
They voted it ABC’s second-least-promising new program in a survey earlier this year. And they predicted it will likely just finish out its initial order, not receiving a full-season pickup.
“Facing established shows like ‘Voice’ and ‘NCIS’ in this slot is really tough for a new one,” one buyer says.
What the critics say
“Mixon is entertaining in the role, particularly when she deploys her sarcastic wit against both her tormentors and her children. And she’s surrounded by a solid, if not dazzling, supporting cast. … All together, they form another happyish ABC family, at least until Katie gets wise and decides to move to a more hospitable town.” — Matthew Gilbert, The Boston Globe
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