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Fall 2011 Review: I Hate My Teenage Daughter

16 Dec

Within the first two minutes of this show, the premise is established.  Two single moms are best friends and grew up as outcasts and losers in high school.  They have teenage daughters who are best friends and who are super popular and part of the cool crowd.  The parents want their kids to have everything they didn’t growing up and spoil them endlessly, but are afraid that partly because they’re so spoiled their daughters are turning into everyone they hated when they went to high school.

The parents are played by Jaime Pressly (of My Name is Earl) and Katie Finneran (Wonderfalls).  Pressley, the dominant of the two, grew up as a social outcast and tends to make the decisions about what needs to be done with the kids (based on the first episode, anyway).  Finneran grew up obese in the same high school that her daughter now goes to and the current principal was her primary torturer as a teen.  Both of the mothers have exes who appear in the first episode and are frustrated by both the women and the daughters, while they have no idea how to control either.

I have maybe as little to say about this show as I do about any new show that debuted this fall.  It’s exactly what you think it is.  It’s a bad, traditional style sitcom, and it’s definitely bad but it isn’t as aggressively bad as Whitney or aggressive offensive as 2 Broke Girls or aggressively sexist as Last Man Standing.  I thought it would be offensive, but it ended up as merely entirely forgettable.

It’s just bad.  It’s closest analogue in that sense may be How to Be a Gentleman, though that had a bunch of cast members I like.   It steers towards the dysfunctional family sitcom tree in the vein which Roseanne and Married With Children pioneered, where the family members clearly love each other overall but are always doing things to get on each others nerves.  The first episode involved the parents trying to discipline their daughters for locking a handicapped boy in the restroom.  As much as it pains them, the parents force themselves to bar the kids from attending their first high school dance as punishment, but the daughters manipulate their way eventually, before the parents get the last laugh.  The jokes are corny, the exchanges canned, and it sounds like that comedy level would probably fit more at home in 1992 than it would today.

Otherwise, notably I Hate My Teenage Daughter bizarrely co-stars Chad Coleman, best known as Dennis “Cutty” Wise from The Wire, as Finneran’s’ ex-husband.

Will I watch it again?  No, I’m not going to.  It’s hard to decide whether this show is more bad or more unmemorable.  I’d probably lean towards the latter, and I’m not sure if that’s a backhanded compliment, but either way, there’s no reason to see any more episodes.

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