Last night, NBC got their Fall Season started a little early with sneak-peeks at the pilot episodes of two new comedies, THE NEW NORMAL (not about being a Dad, but using an oft-used term for “Stay at home Dads” as it’s title) and the Dad-centric, GUYS WITH KIDS. I’m not a big sitcom guy, and while I skipped ‘Normal, I had GUYS WITH KIDS set to record on the DVR for later viewing, lured by it’s subject matter and Jimmy Fallon’s involvement in the series. After viewing it this afternoon, I can confidently say that GUYS WITH KIDS will be a big hit… but not with guys with kids.
In my travels through the blogosphere it’s become apparent that a lot of modern dads can be overly-sensitive at times when it comes to the depiction of dads in the media. Hell, even I’ve been irritated a couple of times, but the main reason for it is because it’s happens constantly. Now, GUYS WITH KIDS isn’t terrible by sitcom standards, but they took the road most-traveled when it comes to cheap and easy laughs – and to make matters worse, the show has a laugh track, a fact I came across earlier via a conversation with Canadian Dad on twitter. When a show has a laugh track, you can generally count me out.
The set-up of the show is pretty simple: The Stay-at-home Dad, The Married Dad, The Single/Divorced Dad. You’ve got a trio of friends united by fatherhood, which is great in principle, but nowhere in the pilot episode is there any indication that either of these men are proud and/or happy to be dads. This guy whines that he’s “got four kids“ (an unfunny quip stated repeatedly)… that guy is inconvenienced when it comes to going out for a date… and numero three? He doesn’t understand that his wife wants some time alone. The kids are essentially prop accessories lugged around as a MacGuffin to push along a fairly standard, generally unfunny “plot” which is hardly there to begin with. And then you have basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who appears in a guest spot as a date for the divorced guy’s ex-wife. Why they chose Kareem is baffling, as his appearance would’ve been far more relevant if it was 1980 and AIRPLANE! had just come out.
GUYS WITH KIDS had the opportunity to be something really good, think “ENTOURAGE for Dads“, but instead it’s just a run-of-the-mill sitcom that offers nothing new… and the general tv-watching public tends to love this stuff. You could even switch out the sets with past shows and no one would ever notice. The generic “urban apartment”… the generic “local bar”… hey, is that “movie theater concession stand” a leftover from SEINFELD?
Being a stay-at-home dad myself, I managed to watch this show while serving a 3-year-old her peanut butter sandwich and Goldfish Crackers for lunch as I washed the morning bottles from the newborn and changed a diaper. Sadly, no bumbling hysterics ensued.
GUYS WITH KIDS will air Wednesdays at 8:30/7:30c on NBC beginning September 26, 2012. Check out the official site for more details.