Creating a funny family out of quirky parents living with their adult children is one thing. Taking that family and making it lovable, well, that’s another thing entirely.
The premiere of Will Arnett’s new CBS comedy The Millers was a lackluster first effort, I’m sad to say. Arnett plays Nathan, a semi-successful broadcast journalist, who accidentally turns his life upside down when his parents come to visit. After he reveals that he and his wife are divorced, his father (Beau Bridges) decides it’s time for him to leave his wife of 43 years. And by leave, I mean go live with his daughter Debbie (Jayma Mays), while mom (Margo Martindale) stays with Nathan. So now we’ve got two grown siblings (one with a family and one recently divorced) who are living with one of their parents.
Nathan is stuck with his newly single mother, who enjoys sleeping pills and (fart joke alert!) can’t tell when she’s passed gas. Meanwhile, Debbie is stuck with her ridiculously stupid father, who accidentally flushes a belt down the toilet, puts metal in the microwave, and can’t figure out how to work any remote in the history of remotes. Even Arnett’s laid-back one-liners can’t save the in-your-face comedic approach of this episode.
Other than a genuinely funny moment when the parents decide to divorce and show more spunk than quirk, the rest of the episode feels like it’s trying too hard. Proof? By the end of the episode, Arnett does the Dirty Dancing routine with his mother at his own party in an attempt to make her feel better about her life. They clutch each other’s faces like they’re Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. But they aren’t. They’re mother and son, and they’re in public. Even the show acknowledges that it’s more “creepy” than anything. And then, of course, the episode continues with the fart joke that won’t end.
I’m not saying the show as a whole can’t be saved, but this first effort needed some refinement. The characters are too simplified (other than Arnett’s), their traits are too big, and the actual laugh-out-loud moments are too hard to find.
What did you think of The Millers, PopWatchers? Will you keep watching?