'Melissa and Joey' premiere: I love the '90s

Melissa-and-joeyImage Credit: Eric McCandless/ABC FamilyIf you caught either episode of Melissa & Joey last night, you may have thought that ABC Family was running reruns of failed sitcoms during it’s 8 o’clock hour. Melissa & Joey is by no means offensive, and I wouldn’t even call it awful — it’s fine to have on in the background, or on mute — but it’s not good, and is a really strange programming choice for a cable network in 2010. Aside from a few stray jokes about texting and a brief shot of what looked like a Twitter account, it’s easy to think this show was made 10 years ago, and has been growing dusty on the shelf of some TV executive ever since.

After a surprisingly successful made-for-TV movie, My Fake Fiance, Melissa Joan Hart (Clarissa Explains It All) and Joey Lawrence (Blossom) give their best shot at 21st century sitcom success. They’re both likable, despite Hart’s idea that comedic delivery rests solely on over-exaggerated facial expressions and shouting. And even with fewer hair follicles, Joey Lawrence is still somewhat of a dreamboat. Still, I’d much rather see Clarissa’s friend Sam enter the window via his trusty ladder or hear Blossom’s friend Six speed-chat. I’d even settle for a “whoa.”

The show brings back all kinds of ’90s sitcom nostalgia, from the laugh track (which is a lot less common these days thanks to The Office and 30 Rock) to the home with two staircases. (Was I the only child who wished I lived in a house like this? Literally every show from Growing Pains, Boy Meets World, to Full House conveniently had two staircases, making wacky sitcom hijinks all the more possible). Melissa & Joey also recycles the same tropes many of these popular shows used, the most obvious being an unconventional family. Mel is a reformed bad girl who now has a high-powered job with the city when she unexpectedly inherits the responsibility of raising her teenage niece and nephew. She’s not a single parent for long, as she hires the help of  — gasp — a male nanny, Joey, a fallen commodities trader. Gender role reversal, how modern! You know that there will be some sort of sexual tension between the two; each will fall for the other at the wrong time, then try to ignore the signs by dating other people before there is a big declaration of love (most likely at an airport) during the season finale.

Did you watch last night, PopWatchers?

Comments (162 total) Add your comment
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  • Madd

    I didn’t watch, but this article made me miss Boy Meets World even more.

    • Elizabeth

      FEENEY!!

      • yo

        FUHEE-NU-HAY!!!

      • Angel

        Maybe Mel-Joe should hire the writers of “Hard Times of RJ Berger”!

      • miss k

        FEE-HEE-HEE-NAY!!!!

      • Nerdista

        Me too!

    • Lauren

      I don’t miss it- I watch it every AM while I’m getting ready for work. Who needs to watch the news!?! We’re firmly in the Johnathan Turner eps- possibly my favorite story arc.

      • TIVOMIKE

        Every morning?? Where? I LOVE Boy Meets World!

      • Andrea

        I loved the Mr. Turner eps too. I like how in the high school graduation ep, they allude to the fact that he just disappeared one day (apparently he was on the other side of the school the whole time).

    • Briana

      Yes! Best show of the decade!

    • TIVOMIKE

      I know, I LOVE that show! Disney Channel use to air the reruns of it, and not anymore. Where can I find them on TV??

      • el

        it’s on ABC Family every morning

    • Angel

      So over the 90s! It’s likely Mel and/or Joe are executive producing this sitcom. And since they’ve both been out of it they’re simply going with what they remember. It can’t be ABCFam’s fault, their “10 Things” show ROCKS! And that concept is 10 years old.

      • meliot

        @angel – you mean “10 Things” show ROCKED. Unfortunately it was cancelled. :(

        I thought Melissa&Joey was cute and will watch it again. They have great chemistry, and so what if it seems a little dated – what’s wrong with nostalgia????

      • Angel

        Nostalgia is just a way for old people to say that yesterdays are better than the here and now.

      • Angel

        I want my 10 THINGS back! It was fresh and cute and funnier than Melissa and Joe ever were. Kat and Bianca are way better role models than Mel and Joe. And they’re much more realistic human beings.

    • r.

      I watched it, but just to ogle at Joey Lawrence’s buns.

    • r.

      And I was really hoping that they would shoot it as a one-camera show like Modern Family, but they didn’t.

  • paige

    this sounds like the plot of “who’s the boss?”

    • Andy

      lol my thought EXACTLY … all it’s missing is Katherine Helmond :(

      • Chris

        Is this not an unofficial remake of it though?

    • Molly

      It’s seriously a mix between “Who’s the Boss?” and “Raising Helen”.

      I admittedly caught some of this last night, and there were a few “racy” jokes I couldn’t believe they used on ABC Family.

      • really?

        Have you seen some of the shows on ABC family….pretty little liars, secrets about pregnant teenagers, this show seems pretty tame compared to some.

      • Mary2

        @really – I think because it had a c**t joke during a sitcom is why it seemed racy for ABC Family. I’ve never seen pretty little liars but I have seen secrets. The way they get around the “racy” material is to be sanctimonious and preachy throughout. Everyone who has sex ends up with a dead parent or a bun in the oven.

      • Angel

        I like the name ‘Molly’.

  • mscisluv

    “his trusty latter”?? Do you mean ladder? Geez, I hate to add to the chorus of complainers on here, but the editing has been disastrous (or non-existent?) lately.

    • Laura

      Not to pile on, but “Literally ever show…”
      Pretty sure you mean every.

    • OCC

      get a life…

    • Angel

      You wrote your name wrong.

  • Jacob

    Two staircase houses! My aunt and uncle have a house with two staircases… And boy do I envy them…

    • Bebe

      Where was the second staircase? Was there one in the kitchen? Like the Lawrence’s house in “Family”?

      • Molly

        For all three sitcoms, there was one in the living room and one stemming from the kitchen.

    • Ncdrew

      My daughter says this is the same set that ABC Family used for Ruby & the Rockits. Remember that short-lived sitcom with the Cassidy brothers!
      Thought Melissa & Joey was somewhat lame and similar to Who’s the Boss. Surprised by the c**t joke, but I guess that’s their idea of edgy. Joey Lawrence is still very attractive, but I agree that Melissa Joan Hart overacts constantly.

  • cat

    I watched and I enjoyed it. And I’m not exactly the demographic, pushing 50 as I am. Was a nice throwback. I hope it lasts.

    • edvicheck

      I agree, and I too am 50+. It is a shame you have to go to the cable end of the spectrum to get good shows anymore. 70s and early 80s, best sitcoms.

      • Angel

        Great! Another baby boomer pining for a past that never was. Watch all those shows today, knowing what you know now, and see if you can laugh along with the laugh track. Better yet, get a teen to watch it with you (force them) and see if it was really that funny. If you say most of them still are, you’re just lying to yourself.

      • meliot

        @Angel – ahhhh, ever heard of a little show called Golden Girls?

      • Angel

        @meliot- I know someone would invoke the name of that sitcom. The expiration date for most of their gags was 1996. You can laugh at it today out of nostalgia but out-loud laughs are not as many. Face it we’ve seen too much. I like the Dick Van Dyke Show but I have to “suspend time” and pretend it’s 1971 at the latest to really get into the gags. (Use your parents as reference to pull this off.)

      • meliot

        @Angel – Personally I don’t rate TV sitcoms by the total of out-loud laughs I get from them. I watch a show because of a combination of chemistry and writing. Don’t get me wrong, lots of laughing out loud (Modern Family) is great, but not a necessity if the story is good. If I’m smiling at the end of a show, I consider it time not wasted.

        I do agree with your assesment about parents. My mother has definnitely suspended time, she only watches TV Land, Judge Judy, Y&R and B&B. Last year she stopped watching DWTS as she only recognized 2 or 3 people each season.

        I do

      • Angel

        meliot- LOL. It was easy to “leave you with a smile” in the old sitcoms. They ended the show with a ba-zinga. You rarely remember what happened during the show, which is good because plots were recycled. Maude complained about something, Rue got creepy with a guy, adorable Betty got in her one-liners, and Sofie brought sarcasm to greater heights. After a while all the episodes kind of melted into one another. The Harper boys have been doing that for the last 7 years on CBS, and middle-aged women still love ‘em.

      • meliot

        I absolutely do not understand the love for 2-1/2 Men. Yeah, I guess it’s funny, if you like that kind of humor, but Charlie Sheen’s character is an A-hole, and someone I would never associate with, and Jon Cryer’s character is a good for nothing leech. I usually don’t watch the show, but caught part of it this week and all I wanted to do was throw my remote at the TV. Oh well….

  • Margo

    Samanta!

  • Amy

    Step By Step was another good one with a cool house

    • ST

      And two staircases! :-)

    • cuse

      Cosby show had two staircases—-I did envy those kids.

    • Amanda

      and Family Matters.
      I always wished my house had two staircases.

      • Jenn

        I was so envious of the two staircases as a kid!

    • Hillary

      my house was built in the 50′s , but we have two staircases to the second floor and two to the basement. Maybe they could film a sitcom here.

    • Angel

      All these 90′s family shows seem to lean towards ‘Craftman’ and ‘Bungalow’ style homes.

    • Cee Cee

      I believe this IS the Step By Step House! I kept saying that to myself as I watched the episodes, even the shot of the house from outside looks like the same one in Step By Step…anybody concur?

      • Angel

        What if it’s a mash-up? They took whatever pieces were still in good condition or not being used for “the forgotten” and combined them to create Mel’s house.

  • EWsMom

    I saw this show last night – kind of by accident – and it was pretty awful. ABC Family has some pretty “edgy” shows (relatively speaking)…I don’t think a snoozefest like this will do very well over there.

  • Hypnogal

    I did watch it; I actually had looked forward to it as I like Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence. I was major disappointed; from the overbearing laugh track to the insipid jokes, this was a real snooze. I couldn’t watch the entire show, it was that bad. Sometimes I’ll give a show a second chance; this one, I’m not too sure.
    By the way, I always wanted to live in a house with 2 stair cases. What is the pull, I wonder… My son’s house has 2, and I’d like it just for that.

    • Tia

      The second episode about the tv was a lot funnier than the first episode that played last night.

    • Mary2

      I had trouble getting over MJH’s facial expressions. She was so jerky. I also couldn’t get over the fact that JL was the better actor. I try to give new shows more than the pilot episode but I’m not sure I can take it if MJH doesn’t calm down some.

  • Tia

    I like it. But your right. It felt like home. In an age of all different types of shows, it was nice to have a simple ‘Who’s the Boss’ kinda show. I will watch it.

    • KRG

      I like JL and MJH so I watched. It was cute. it reminded me of watching shows like Saved by the Bell on Saturday mornings during college when we had been out partying the night previous. I will DVR and watch this on Saturday mornings after a fun night out. It would go well with brunch and bloody marys.

    • bethanymae

      The funny thing is, the premise of the show is half of the premise of My Fake Fiance.

  • Travis

    Definitely nostalgic, but I kept waiting for Mel to do the finger-point spell ala Sabrina, Joey to say “Whoa” (P.S. Why are all of his characters named Joe or Joey?) and Salem the cat to walk across the room.

    • stacy

      well it seems at least with this show they took both actors real first names

    • Angel

      Sometimes actors have trouble remembering their character’s names. But mostly it’s because some shows are merely vehicles to maintain a presence until something more lucrative comes along. The vehicle is often cheaply produced and the name helps sell it to networks (and advertisers).

  • Julie

    I tried to watch it last night and I really wanted to try to like it, but I got about a minute and 45 seconds in before the laugh track made it impossible for me to continue. It might’ve been fine if the laugh track happened occasionally but they kept playing it for everything!

    • Angel

      @Julie- loosen up girl. I watch it for Melissa’s post-natal voluptuousness. It’s not my thing but it works on her (and Erica Christensen on Parenthood).

  • Bee

    it wasn’t the best show ever, but a simple lil show you can catch occasionally.

    • Che

      ABC Family should have kept 10 Things I hate about you instead of putting this garbage on air!

      • Eli

        Agree so much, a show that is a hundred times funnier without a laugh track…

  • Hilaryy

    Step By Step had the double stair case house too, and Yes I wanted a home like that SO BAD!

  • Carrie

    I also watched it and I agree that the laugh track needs to go. It seemed very forced, the jokes were bad and delivered poorly but I will give it a chance. I loved Sabrina and Blossom. I choose to believe the two of them are just out of practice.

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