‘Trophy Wife’ endears with likable family representationPosted on September 24, 2013 | by Keith Allison
Launching a successful comedy in today’s television landscape can be difficult these days, particularly on the broadcast networks. The tone of a show can feel unrefined, characters are still in need of full development, and some writers just may need a while to find their footing. However, ABC’s new sitcom “Trophy Wife” shows plenty of promise from the start.
“Wife” stars Malin Åkerman as Kate, a free-spirited party girl who finds herself smitten with Pete (Bradley Whitford), a man she accidentally injures at a karaoke bar. Although they initially form a bond, their relationship becomes a bit convoluted when Pete reveals that he’s a two-time divorcé with three kids.
Despite this, the two maintain their connection and marry, thus setting Kate up for huge obstacles to overcome. Kate must now attempt to assimilate herself into the lives of her step-kids, while keeping things cordial with Pete’s ex-wives (Michaela Watkins and Marcia Gay Harden).
The striking aspect about this show is that, even in its first episode, the dynamic between the characters is well established. Åkerman exudes a kind and infectious energy as Kate. Although it is clear the character is out of her element in dealing with kids as a maternal figure, she is so endearing in her interactions with them that one can’t resist hoping she finds a way to connect with them.
Bradley Whitford is equally good as Pete. He still carries some of that charming, sardonic wit from his tenure on “The West Wing,” and there is a fair amount of chemistry between him and Åkerman, despite their age disparity. This is a genuine relationship between the two characters, and they fully see each other as partners, despite what the show’s title may imply.
Outside of this central duo, the supporting cast complements the main players. Harden is properly stoic in her role as Pete’s second ex-wife, and the kids are refreshingly written — occasionally precocious and rebellious, but not so much that they delve into caricature. The family on “Wife” feels like an actual family, albeit one filled with eccentricities.
Not everything about the show impresses, however. There is a cringe-worthy subplot in the pilot where Pete and his first ex-wife try to find a replacement hamster for their son. Thankfully, it is merely one aspect in a solid episode. Pay closer attention to the show’s solid cast and dependable writing, as “Trophy Wife” looks like it could be a welcome addition to the television season.