Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Trophy Wife 1.01: "Pilot"

“You’re not even a real grown-up. Your car is full of garbage and shoes.”

I’ve decided to go a bit more comedy-heavy in my own blogging rotation this fall considering my demanding work schedule, and that means recaps of a new comedy on ABC called “Trophy Wife.” The previews of “Trophy Wife” made it look like a real charmer, and the pilot was pretty much as advertised. The show stars Malin Akerman as Kate, third wife to Bradley Whitford’s Pete. Pete’s first two wives, Diane (Marcia Gay Harden) and Jackie (Michaela Watkins), and the three kids between them are still heavily involved in Pete’s life, and wacky hijinks are sure to ensue on a regular basis. While this may all seem a bit clichéd, the well-drawn characters give the show potential to be something more. There’s a crazy crew of people in Kate’s life, but there all instantly differentiable, with clearly defining personality traits. I’m looking forward to watching the crazy adventures of this uber-blended family and seeing how Kate’s new insta-family helps her grow up.

The premise of the show is that Kate, a young-ish party girl who meets somewhat older laywer Pete when having a karaoke night with her best friend Meg (Natalie Morales) following a break-up. Kate falls off the stage and onto Pete, breaking his nose. At the hospital, Kate is quickly introduced to the rest of Pete’s crazy family. Jackie and all the kids arrive as soon as Jackie gets the news, and Diane is already a doctor at the hospital. Despite the chaos, Kate agrees to a coffee date with Pete, and the rest is history. A year later, they are married, and Kate is trying her best to adjust to being a wife and stepmom to three kids. She tries to cook elaborate breakfasts that end up burnt, and she simultaneously acts too young and tries too hard to act adult. She really wants to be involved in the kids’ lives, but they accuse her of trying too hard.

It’s probably time for an introduction to the rest of the extended family. Diane, Pete’s first wife, is an uber-accomplished surgeon. She doesn’t especially love Kate, or the fact that her ex married a “child bride,” but she’s not a hateful person, either. Diane and Pete have teenage twins, Hillary and Warren. The twins are sort of polar opposites. Hillary moves in the popular circles and tries to sneak vodka into school. Warren is uber nerdy and wears braces, and he admires girls in his class by writing kind of creepy erotica. Jackie, Pete’s second wife, takes crunchy granola to the extreme. She babbles about her organic food co-op and such on a pretty regular basis. She also doesn’t really have any sense of boundaries, as we learn she has her own hide-a-key for Pete and Kate’s house. Pete and Jackie have a son, Bert, who they adopted from China. Right now, Bert is kind of just a “kids say the darndest things” delivery system, but I hope that the character will deepen as he gets older (if the show sticks around). Finally, there’s Kate’s best friend Meg. Meg was Kate’s party and hook-up partner in crime, but now, she’s on help Kate out with the stepkids duty. I can see this being a major source of tension in the future.

The plotlines in this episode are all fairly simple family drama, most likely to serve as an introduction to the crazy clan for the viewers. Kate and Pete are fairly newly married, so Kate is still trying extra hard to be somewhat of a parental figure by making the aforementioned highly burned breakfast. Warren’s teacher calls wanting a parent conference, but Pete has a big court case going to trial, so he can’t make it. Kate eagerly offers to go in his place. She also tries to bond with Hillary by talking about a time she went to Lollapalooza and snuck in vodka in a water bottle. This will clearly backfire later. Anyway, at the seriously awkward school meeting, Warren’s teacher informs Kate and Diane that Warren has been writing Poseidon-themed erotica that may feature Kate. Kate doesn’t think it’s her, but Diane does, of course. As they’re all about to leave the school, Kate spots Hillary about to drink vodka out of a water bottle with her friends. Due to a rather complex series of events, Kate ends up drinking the whole bottle of vodka herself to prevent either Hillary or Warren from drinking it.

Meanwhile, Bert needed to go to orchestra rehearsal, but Kate couldn’t take him due to the school conference about Warren. Kate, as I alluded to earlier, enlists Meg for Bert chauffeur duty. Meg, however, decides to stop at the bar where she works to pick up her paycheck (so she says) before dropping Bert off, though. She leaves Bert in the car. Bert is pretty upset about the fact that he’s going to be late to rehearsal (it means he won’t be given a solo), so Meg goes into bargaining mode. She agrees to take Bert to the toy store instead and buy him a big, fancy toy. Back at the house, more Bert-related drama is happening. Pete catches Jackie snooping around the hamster cage in Bert’s room. Apparently Bert has twin hamsters, one of whom lives at each of his parents’ houses, and the hamster at Jackie’s house died. Jackie was hoping to switch the alive and dead hamsters so that Pete would take the blame. While trying to resolve the situation, Pete accidentally smushes the remaining hamster to death in a door. This leads to a wild, unsuccessful replacement hamster chase for Pete and Jackie.

All of these plots come together at the end of the episode at Pete and Kate’s house. Meg brings Bert home with his new toy, which is quickly replaced in Bert’s affections by the puppy Jackie and Pete bought him to distract him from the missing hamsters. Also, Diane, who drove Kate and the kids home from school, realizes that Kate is seriously drunk. Diane throws a fit, threatening to sue for full custody again, until Hillary fesses up and explains why Kate drank a whole bottle of vodka at once. Kate is cleared of blame, but Hillary is grounded. This means she can’t attend a concert with her best friend as she had been planning. Hillary’s best friend is also at the house, and she now wants to know what to do with the extra concert ticket. Warren is only too happy to offer to take the ticket, and the friend surprisingly agrees. And that’s when everybody realizes that Hillary’s friend is the person Warren was writing about, not Kate. As the episode closes and Kate nurses her hangover, we see how she’s slowly but surely adjusting to her new life, and we can now look forward to the wacky hijinks sure to ensue in future episodes.

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