December 8, 2011

THE SKED’S PILOT + 1 REVIEW: “I Hate My Teenage Daughter”

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot in the spring and production of episodes for the regular season:  a writing/producing team is hired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover in the off-season) give plenty of notes, both helpful and otherwise, and critics begin to rear their ugly heads.  The results can include changes to tone, pace, casting and even story.  Here at THE SKED, we’re going to look past the pilots and present reviews of the first regular episodes of this year’s new series as well.
Previously… on I HATE MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER:  Annie (Jaime Pressley) and Nikki (Katie Finneran) are best friends and the mothers, respectively, of Sophie (Kristi Lauren) and MacKenzie (Aisha Dee).  The moms were losers in high school, but their daughters are bona fide Mean Girls, popular yet selfish and narcissistic, much to the despair of Annie and Nikki.  Also on the scene are the divorced dads, musician/womanizer Matt (Eric Sheffer Stevens) and golf pro Gary (Chad Coleman).  Rounding out the group is Matt’s brother Jack (Kevin Rahm), a lawyer who’s the subject of Annie’s secret crush.

Episode 2Teenage Daughter continues to exist seemingly as an affirmative action program to make sure ABC doesn’t have all the truly awful new sitcoms this season.  The 2d episode, written by Consulting Producer (and very experienced sit-com writer) Wil Calhoun, and directed by vet Andy Ackerman, is less hateful than the pilot because it concentrates somewhat less on the viciousness of the title daughters, and fixes its aim on the mothers for their utter idiocy more than their abject loserdom.  (This time around, we don’t get Nikki sticking her face into a pie to make herself feel better.)

So the episode, comparatively speaking, takes the higher road of being inept rather than overtly painful.  The episode concerns Annie’s determination to know more about the kids’ lives by forcing everyone into attending a “family night,” dads included.  Naturally this degenerates into Nikki’s pathetic jealousy over the fact that Gary is dating again, and Annie’s even more blithering inability to hide her feelings for Jack.  (When Jack shows up with a date–because that’s what a normal person would do when coming to a family night with 2 divorced couples and their teen daughters–Annie can’t help herself from slapping the woman’s butt and blurting out references to her beauty.)  Sophie and McKenzie are mostly in the background, which is to everyone’s benefit–among other things, they don’t have to be on screen for the moronic only-in-a-sitcom sequence where Annie, afraid Jack has heard her confess her crush to Nikki because he entered the room just as she was saying it, reenacts the moment… only to have Jack walk back into the room at the exact same moment. (HA!!! screams the laugh-track.)
Teenage Daughter is an utter waste of Pressley and Finneran, both of whom have proven their talents elsewhere, and it pales in its satire of self-absorbed teenhood (not to mention its capacity for some emotional warmth) next to ABC’s Suburgatory, which airs just an hour earlier on the same night.  FOX was extremely careful in picking the night for Teenage Daughter‘s debut, and scored a decent rating against repeats on other networks; we’ll find out soon enough how many of that crowd stuck around for a second installment.

Original Verdict:  Change the Channel
Pilot + 1:  “Happy Endings” Is On


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."