October 21, 2014

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Premiere Review: “The Millers”


THE MILLERS:  Monday 8:30PM on CBS

THE MILLERS is about to enter dangerous territory.

Last season, the series was the very definition of a “timeslot hit.”  It lost half of its Big Bang Theory lead-in each week, but Big Bang‘s ratings were so enormous that even 50% of them counted as a success.  This season, it was originally due to retain that perch once CBS was done with Thursday Night Football and Big Bang returned to Thursdays, but instead it’s going to spend some time on Mondays, with the much weaker 2 Broke Girls starting next week as its lead-in, while Mom (also produced by Big Bang honcho Chuck Lorre) gets the deluxe slot.  For now, Millers is supposed to return to Thursdays in January 2015, but that’s a long way away.

None of this would be quite as important, of course, if anyone thought The Millers was strong enough to thrive on its own, but it’s an absolutely awful series, notable for the nearly unmatched amount of talent it manages to waste every week, from series creator Greg Garcia to stars Margo Martindale, Beau Bridges (both of whom have been doing brilliant work in their off hours on the cable dramas The Americans and Masters of Sex), Will Arnett, Jayma Mays and J. B. Smoove.  None of the imagination and warmth that Garcia showed in his My Name Is Earl and Raising Hope is evident here, and the gags are all about the unpleasantness of old people–the show kicked off with the premise that the Miller parents Carol and Tom (Bridges and Martindale) had split up, becoming burdens on their children Nathan and Debbie (Arnett and Mays)–and sex, either the dirty thrill of the elderly having it, or the pathetic lack of same for the younger characters.

In case The Millers wasn’t overbroad enough, Season 2 has added Sean Hayes as a new regular, someone who has exactly one over-the-top performance in his repertoire.  Tonight’s season premiere, written by Producer Chadd Gindin and directed by James Burrows, introduced Hayes as Kip Finkle, manager of a “home for active living” where Nathan was hoping that Carol would move.  In order to secure her a scarce room, he agreed to pretend to be Kip’s boyfriend to make Kip’s ex (guest star Billy Eichner) jealous.  That naturally didn’t work, even after Nathan thrilled the studio audience by kissing Kip on the lips, so the episode ended with Carol moving in with Kip himself–into the apartment directly across the hall from Nathan’s, a location that only exists for relatives of people on sitcoms who are hoping to get rid of their houseguests.

Everything about Hayes’s presence already feels tiresome, from his sub-Jack schtick honed on Will & Grace (“Straight lips!  Straight lips!” he spat with horror after Nathan kissed him), to the running gag that he thinks Nathan has low intelligence, which doesn’t even make sense in a sitcom world.  Martindale and Bridges (the latter wasn’t heavily featured tonight) elevate the material as much as that’s possible to do, but the rest of the cast seems rightly stupefied by what they’re playing.

CBS has been marketing The Millers as a popular hit since it debuted last fall.  Over the next few weeks, we’ll find out how many people actually like it–and how many just haven’t been able to rouse the energy to change the channel on their remotes once The Big Bang Theory was over.


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."