Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Review: ABC's "How to Live With Your Parents"

I wish TV didn't repeat itself.

The worst elements of "How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)," which premieres tonight on ABC, are recycled: quick flashbacks to punctuate a joke, bleeped out swear words, sentimental summation.

The concept is also familiar: Single mom Polly (Sarah Chalke), recently divorced, returns home and intends to stay with her parents (Brad Garrett and Elizabeth Perkins) for just a short while, but ends up staying indefinitely. Polly is the "normal" one of the family, her parents the eccentric, free-spirited type. Her doofus ex-husband (Jon Dore) is still in the picture. But in a departure from recent trends, her young daughter (Rachel Eggleston) is blissfully non-precocious.

With the recycled elements, "How to Live With Your Parents" simply feels like it's trying too hard. But the show has something in Garrett and Perkins, especially, and it succeeds in moments when it sits back and lets them play off each other. They have an easy relationship, one that comes across as believably long-term: When they talk over each other, as they often do, it's subdued and usually serves to complement what the other is saying. Their hands-off approach differs from Polly's, providing the genesis of most conflict on the show. Chalke does a fine job navigating the waters as Polly tries to figure out how she wants to raise her daughter. Polly can be a little manic sometimes, and her life is not nearly as out of control as she pretends it is, but she's charming.

This is not really a laugh-a-minute show, but it could be. Give it a try.

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