TBS’s Your Family Or Mine Season 1 Review

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TBS’s Your Family Or Mine Season 1 Review

Your Family or Mine

How low key can a sitcom go? Adapted from the Israeli series Savri MarananYour Family or Mine is TBS’s latest foray into slightly raunchy sitcom territory, after putting my beloved Ground Floor to rest earlier this year. The concept is simple – each episode alternates between the two families of Oliver and Kelli, a married couple settling into their mid-thirties, as professionals and parents – and the delivery is even more subdued, each of the first season’s nine episodes (the season finale airs next week) adopting a very traditional three act structure, and even more familiar comedic rhythms and punchlines. What I’m saying is Your Family Or Mine is slightly vulgar comfort television, amusing and weightless in all the right ways, even when being a little too corny for its own good.

Like most sitcoms adopting familiar premises – in this case, think Modern Family-lite with even less diversity, and less pretension about it – how Your Family Or Mine works on a week to week basis comes down to chemistry between the cast. And early on, the scales are heavily tipped to one side: Kelli’s parents, the eternally angry, cursing Gil (an enthusiastic Ed Bagley, Jr.) and the gun-toting, supportive Jan, are the early highlights. Their first few episodes bringing otherwise tired comedic material to life with their commitment to the part.

The even-numbered episodes dim in comparison; Richard Dreyfuss and JoBeth Williams as Oliver’s parents, Louis and Ricky (respectively), bring a totally different energy to the show, and those half hours early on struggle to find ways for characters to interact, falling back on long monologues from Williams and flat interactions between the ancillary characters – Oliver’s two siblings Jason and Blake, and Jason’s wife Claire (The Office‘s Angela Kinsey) – while the show finds its footing. It’s not that these episodes aren’t entertaining, they just lack balance: Jason is too mean to Claire on a regular basis, and Blake is too stupid to exist as a dimensional character (which is a lot to ask for on a show that’s operating on such a small scale, but he’s really a major pain).

Surprisingly, it’s Oliver’s family that provides the most emotionally satisfying episode, this week’s penultimate half hour “Presents.” Like any other episode, it takes place primarily in the house of one family (Oliver’s), bookened by scenes of Oliver and Kelli driving to and from their house. Again, Your Family or Mine operates on a very basic level; it sticks to this formula, and “Presents” shows how well it can work when everything is arranged correctly. Beginning with Kelli and Oliver in the house building an anniversary present, “Presents” sprawls out to include Blake faking an Australian accent and a career in pop music to get a girl (the least satisfying story, but still amusing because accents are funny) – and more importantly, for a really touching story about Claire and Jason that really shows their strength as a couple for once, after Jason accidentally gets a drunk vasectomy (“I’m a doctor; we can do whatever we want!”) a few days after Claire found out she was pregnant.

That reconciliation of sorts sets the table for another, between Kelli and her mother-in-law, making it the first episode to not only go for a huge emotional beat between two characters, but do it twice, in back to back scenes. And Your Family or Mine nails that episode, showing some unexpected promise in a pleasant, if tepid little comedy that was previously content working off the chemistry between Kat Foster and Kyle Howard; with “Presents,” Your Family or Mine showed it can be something a little quieter (even though Ed Bagley, Jr. is quite fun when he’s on) and subtler, an encouraging sign for any young comedy trying to draw an audience in with such familiar arrangements.

[Photo via TBS]

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  1. Kelly Renfro
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