Fall 2012 Review: Malibu Country

29 Nov


Oh boy, this show fits into my favorite category ever, traditional sitcoms with multi-camera set ups and laugh tracks.  It’s not so much that a show can’t be good with both of those features (though with a laugh track it’s increasingly difficult)  as much as that better shows tend not to make those choices (admittedly without thinking too hard I doubt any of the ten best half hour comedies since Seinfeld have laugh tracks or are multi camera).

Malibu Country, while not nearly as archaic as ABC Friday night partner Last Man Standing (admittedly, that’s a difficult feat to achieve), is still a solid fit with the show as another traditional sitcom trying to wear it’s modernity, getting all up with 2012, on its sleeve, while at the same time missing out on all the sitcom innovations that make even many generic shows in 2012 better than shows 20 or 30 years ago.

Malibu Country starts by trying to assert its “modern” direction when Reba (I don’t remember what her non-McEntire last name is, we’ll suffice to call her Reba) leaves her cheating country music star husband after calling him out at a press conference where she was supposed to stand by him.  Thus, now she’s on her own, a single parent with two southern kids and her wise and wisecracking mom (played by Lily Tomlin – man Lily Tomlin is old, to be playing Reba’s mom) and they’re all off to SoCal from Tennessee (Malibu because her husband apparently had a love shack there that she’s getting in the separation).

While you can take the family out of Tennessee, you can’t take the Tennessee out of the family it seems, and Reba feels like a fish out of water is the fast-moving plastic-surgery-filled world of Southern California.  Reba’s vapid neighbor, played by TV-shows-no-one- watches-veteran Sarah Rue (Popular, Less Than Perfect), represents everything that makes Reba uncomfortable, chilling with a glass of white wine while telling Reba not to freak out that she just walked in on her teenage daughter making out with Rue’s stepson.  This is new school, Hollywood-style parenting where Rue’s step-son even calls her by her first name!

Her mom, Tomlin’s character, of course, is allowed to be rude and lewd, a privilege accorded senior citizens, and Tomlin takes it further by purchasing some pot lollipops, which Reba reminds her, ain’t legal back in Tennessee.

Reba hopes to finally resume her country career which she put aside a couple decades ago to raise her family.  When trying to milk a contact using her husband’s connections, she’s told by Jai Rodriguez’s sassy gay assistant that unless she writes songs, she’s not making it in today’s music world, as she’s no longer young and sexy.  I’d like to note here that Jai Rodriguez’s character has an extremely irritating accent, irritating accents are always obvious bad show warning signs for me (see: half the characters on 2 Broke Girls).

The heartwarming moment occurs at the end of the episode, when Reba, about to despair, gets some wisdom from her mom.  Lily Tomlin’s husband cheated on her too, and Tomlin regrets that she never left him.  Reba works twice as hard on her music, comes to Jai Rodriguez’s office with a new demo, and refuses to leave until it’s listened to.  Boom, she has a record deal and a song on the radio by the end of just one episode, and it looks like life in sunny SoCal ain’t so bad after all.

This sitcom isn’t written for me, I know that, but it still rubs me the wrong way.  Besides being simplistic and retrograde, it just wasn’t funny.  I couldn’t believe how many lines there were which got large laugh track receptions and I couldn’t even understand what the genesis of the joke was.  At one point during the episode, Reba’s son, Cash, an idiot who coasts by on his looks and knows it, says “Finally you’re back” to his mom when she returns.  In response, she says, “Good to see you too,” and THE LAUGH TRACK GOES WILD.  Seriously, if we can’t get rid of it, can we set minimum standards for laugh lines?

It’s time to move on from this, comedy-wise.  A bunch of Southerners moving to California who don’t understand their newfound California lifestyle just doesn’t cut it anymore as a premise.    You have to work a little harder to get laughs nowadays, and that’s a good thing.  Of course, I watched the whole episode, but it’s easy to tell within two minutes that this is a show that I won’t like and that no one I know will like.  It’s so uninspired; I have a hard time thinking a writer pens this material and reads it back to himself and thinks it’s funny.

Also, while Reba, her son, and her mom all have southern accents, the daughter does not.  Odd.

Will I watch it again?  Nope.  Besides, if I want to watch episodes of a single parent family bringing their kids from Tennessee to California, I can always watch old Hannah Montana episodes.

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