in Television

“Trophy Wife” Pilot Review

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Back when Fall Previews were hitting the web, I noted that Trophy Wife looked like one of the better comedies debuting in September. So, when the show popped up as a free Hulu preview weeks before its premiere on TV, I jumped at the chance to watch. As it turns out, I wasn’t disappointed.

Malin Akerman stars as Kate, the titular trophy wife, who marries Peter (Bradley Whitford) after meeting him at a karaoke bar. The new hubby comes with two ex-wives (Marcia Gay Harden and Michaela Watkins), a set of twins, and a younger adopted boy.

With a premise like that, I figured the show would be rife with cliches and walking character tropes. However, there was much less of that nonsense than I expected.

Harden, playing a seriously Type-A doctor, comes the closest to a cliché in the first episode. However, she avoids becoming annoying. She is a hard ass and very unwelcoming to Kate, but the rivalry doesn’t seem like the type that will get melodramatic down the road.

Akerman is not a blonde bimbo, despite title connotations, and is by far the best character on the show. The trailer, most famous for the scene where she downs a whole water bottle full of vodka, seemed to imply a certain level of idiocy and desperation, but – really – she just comes across as young, yet caring.

Because of Kate’s characterization, Watkins’ character appears kind of redundant. As far as I can tell, she serves as the Type-B yin to Harden’s yang. However, she’s just a few hippie-dippie traits short of the same, almost-has-it-together personality Kate is already embodying.

Maybe in future episodes Watkins will seem more like a viable entity, but right now she just seems to be the punchline to a Ross Gellar-esque joke about how many times Peter has been married.

Despite her redundancy, I do enjoy Watkins’ work in the pilot (particularly her pulling out a dead hamster at a pet store – don’t ask, just go watch), and there seems to be chemistry between her and Whitford.

So, I’ve talked about the parents – now all we have left are the kids. Naturally, in a sitcom about an extended family, you’ve got to have kids for parents to care for. We’ve got them here, and they’re all pretty run of the mill. All three embody the usual nerdy, bitchy, precocious traits seen in shows like this.

No single kid is overly annoying, but none of them really shine, either. That might change once we meet recently recast daughter Hillary in her suddenly younger, suddenly brunette, suddenly has-star-power form (Bailee Madison).

Overall, Trophy Wife isn’t a bad watch. It isn’t amazing, it’s not laugh-out-loud funny, and the performances don’t blow me away. However, it’s enjoyable and pleasant.

The stakes are low and nobody seems to outright hate anyone else (which I’m really surprised by, based on premise alone), so I’ll keep on watching once the show officially debuts. Since it isn’t starting out at a low point, I could see it growing into something pretty awesome.

Trophy Wife is currently available on Hulu, and will debut September 24 on ABC.