September 27, 2018

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “Single Parents”


SINGLE PARENTS:  Wednesday 9:30PM on ABC

ABC’s post-Modern Family Wednesday sitcom SINGLE PARENTS was created by Elizabeth Meriwether and JJ Philbin, respectively the creator and a senior writer/producer of New Girl (the pilot is credited to Philbin from a story by both of them), and it’s an attempt to extend that show’s brand of off-kilter charm into more family-friendly territory.  Its pilot suggests that it has possibilities, but it also features an excess of eccentricity.

As with New Girl, Single Parents presents an ensemble of the quirky.  This time, instead of sharing an apartment, they’re mostly the unattached parents of young kids who attend the same school.  Angie (Leighton Meester), Douglas (Brad Garrett), Poppy (Kimrie Lewis) and Miggy (Jake Choi) have formed a loose clique/support group (even though Miggy’s child is just an infant, he seems to have been adopted by the others)  Their equilibrium is disturbed by newcomer Will (Taran Killam), who’s been making do with his daughter entirely on his own, and barely knows to function among adults.  Although he drives the others crazy with his overpowering commitment to parenthood, they take him under their wing, determined to help him reenter society.

Single Parents features an awful lot of schtick.  Miggy is so unable to believe that he actually has a child that he keeps forgetting the infant.  Douglas is old-school prosperous, continually offering to tip/bribe people, saying things like “I blame it on Obama,” and putting his children to work.  Will is a virtual quirkfest, from the mermaid pocketbook he’s kept from his estranged wife, to his Taco Tuesday schedules, to his Facetime crooning of the theme from Moana to his daughter.  And it’s not just the adults:  Poppy’s boy is… well, at his age let’s say he’s a Metrosexual.  Douglas has identical twins.  Angie’s son is a romantic whose heart is set on the coolest girl in the class.  All the children are impossibly precocious, as though they listened to podcasts in the womb.

The show’s straightest arrow is Angie, which may be why Meester is the most appealing character in the ensemble.  Although she has her own moments of weirdness, she’s relatively level-headed amid the nonstop tropes of her companions.  Conversely, Will is so saturated with oddness that one’s reaction to Killam’s performance may be a near-constant cringe.  A little of him goes a long way, and since he’s the entry character in the pilot, there’s a great deal of him.  Although director Jason Winer establishes a general sense of likability, he can’t keep Will from seeming like he could use some medication.

ABC clearly believes in Single Parents, since the network has given it the prime slot after its flagship comedy.  (It won’t hurt that as a result of the pending merger with Fox, DisneyABC will soon own the show.)  New Girl was a series that constantly morphed, sometimes surefootedly and at other times down a hole, and the new show will have to be given some time to find its voice.  It has a talented cast and a flexible premise, but it needs to calm itself down a bit.

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."