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Summer 2012 Review: Sullivan and Son

5 Sep

Here’s the premise, and essentially the first episode of Sullivan and Son in reliatvely brief. Steve Sullivan is a big-city corporate lawyer living in New York, where he was just promoted to some nameless, not-understandable-by-normal-people position for his investment bank.  He’s returning to his hometown of Pittsburgh for his dad’s birthday with his girlfriend, another big city NYer more excited about his promotion than he is. He gets back, hangs out with his friends from home and his family, and finds out his dad is selling the bar that has been in the family for multiple generations. He realizes his dad enjoys every day as a bartender, while he dreads every day as a corporate lawyer, so he decides on a whim to buy the bar, and move home to spend time with his friends and family. His big city girlfriend can’t even begin to comprehend his decision and decides to return to NY, ending their relationship.

Sullivan and Son features just about every classic go-to sitcom contrast a viewer can ask for (or ask to please not have). It’s got poor vs. rich; he was making big time bucks in his NYC corporate lawyer job, but will trade it in for a less financially fulfilled life living around the poorer goofballs of Pittsburgh – rich is good for your wallet, but not for your soul.  He’ll both bartend and practice some law, although local real person law rather than unintelligible corporate law (see: Ed). It’s got big city – small town (even though it’s Pittsburgh, not Stuckeyville, but still). New York may be upscale and sophisticated but it has no heart, and people don’t care about each other like they do in Pittsburgh.  Steve’s girlfriend represents every negative stereotype about NYC and pretty much admits it straight out – she wants to pay too much for pretentious but inferior products – coffee, she says, costs four dollars, because that’s how you know it’s good. She wants to be around people who matter, and who are sophisticated, unlike those losers in Pittsburgh, and, well, she wants this big materalistic life that clearly shows a lack of appreciation for the things that really matter in life.   We’ve got the ethnic clash as well – (a la Rob Schneider’s Rob! (forget about that one already?  sorry for reminding you), but one generation removed – unlike Rob, who is marrying a Mexican-American, Steve is son of mixed-race parents) – Steve is the product of an Irish father and a Korean mother.  Her Korean mother naturally prefers her son to her daughter, and participates and likely will continue to in further Korean cliches.

The bar is fulled with lovable loser characters who will inhibit the series – Steve’s cadre of hometown friends, who naturally act like kind of jerks, because that’s how all good sitcom friends act (see:  The League) – like real friends who make fun of you, but take it just a little too far in situations.  There’s the older folks too, including the mother one of his friends (played by brief SNL veteran Christine Ebersole), a local lovable drunk who still wants to sleep around with just about anyone, making for both awkward and good-humored situations for the other customers, as well as the resident old racist (played by brief SNL veteran Brian Doyle Murray), which also makes for awkward and good-humored situations for the other customers.  There’s also the old high school crush that may have been interested in him too (Ed again) who is apparently now kind of dating a guy who does exactly what Steve used to do two days ago before he abruptly decided to take over the bar.  I guess they’ll never revisit that.

That’s the show.  There’ll be some guys hanging out and ribbing on each other, some will-Steve-slowly-get-closer-to-dating-his-old-high-school-crush, some Irish and Korean stereotypes, and some good-hearted everyone loves each other after all moments, I’m sure.  It’s not  terrible like the truly bad shows are (again, Rob!) but why this show exists I’m not exactly sure.

Will I watch it again?  No.  I suppose if I must judge this against other TBS sitcoms, it’s better than Men at Work.  The humor is cliched and tried but I think I like the main character in this show more than anyone in that show, and the people in general seem less obnoxious with the possibility of even being likable.  Alas, it’s still not very good.  I’m sorry if The Office, Arrested Development, and it’s progeny have gotten me to expect more out of a sitcom than a couple of cliches and a laugh track, but they have.  Just try a little harder next time, please.

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