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is one of a new brand of comedies that mines its humor not from negative emotions, but from the inevitable conflicts that arise when a group of very different people commits to the same project, in this case, raising an extended family together.
To pull this off, all the adults on have to be likable, and while the show is working with some difficult tropes, the actresses and writers have zoomed past what might have been easy pitfalls.
When her children, in violation of house rules, get into a tussle over a snack on the couch and spill salsa all over an expensive white couch cushion, ruining it, Diane tortures them for days, making quesadillas and forcing them to request salsa as condiment, dancing the salsa all over her house, and buying tickets to La Bamba.
Her kids are obedient, but not crushed–they’re still in possession of their wonderfully particular personalities.
But Diane’s relationship to them isn’t especially warm, either.
Kate feels bad for having scared, underslept, and overcaffeinated her son.
were made available to critics, I admit that I put off watching it.
How could a network show about a party girl named Kate (Malin Ackerman), who impulsively marries a man she meets at a club Pete, (Bradley Whitford) and sets about finding her place in his extended family, which includes two ex-wives, the perfectionist Diane (Marcia Gay Harden) and the flighty Jackie (Michaela Watkins) be anything other than toxic?
Similarly, Kate learns the limits of being the cool parent when Diane discovers that Hillary’s been sneaking out to see a boy.
Diane’s approach to tracking Hillary’s life might seem maniacal–and when does she have so much time to pretend to be a teenage girl in between her high-powered career as a doctor?