Summer 2014 Review: Jennifer Falls

25 Aug

Jennifer Falls

(I’ve fallen way behind on both my TV viewing and writing, but not to worry – dear reader – I don’t give up that easy – I’ve rapidly been viewing the first episode of every new television show of 2014, with the intent of seeing them all by the end of August. To facilitate a respective blog catchup, I’ll be posting lots of much shorter entries on each show)

TV Land does something that almost no one else on TV really does anymore. TV Land, a network, which didn’t produce original scripted programming until debuting Hot in Cleveland four years ago, makes old-school traditional 90s-and-earlier style sitcoms (ABC Family does it here and there). Now, CBS sitcoms still have a lot in common with the past, but they tend to be coarser, more offensive,sometimes gross-out, sometimes misogynist; they’re certainly linked to the sitcoms of old, but they feel less wholesome. TV Land’s Jennifer Falls certainly has a couple of modern adjustments – main character Jennifer was a high-powered female businesswoman, raking in tons of cash, when she got fired for being impossible to work with, and the topic of women being considered bossy is touched on, although not spend a lot of time with.

While it makes these couple of winks at modernity, Jennifer Falls is a traditional sitcom at heart. After moving out of her expensive apartment in the big city, she’s got to go home and bond with her mother, her daughter, and her old best friend, who is bitter with her because she abandoned their friendship to chase big money years ago. The show deals with classic television redemption, as she realizes somewhat that her life was hollow filled with just work, and without friends (to its credit, the show makes this point without ever seeming to imply anything negative about women at high-paying jobs; the show, without pushing it, is modern enough on that matter). Jennifer, who can’t find a job anywhere after her ignominious firing, reluctantly takes a pity job offer at the bar owned by her brother and sister-in-law, who gives Jennifer constant patronizing life lessons while her brother is afraid to speak up.

The jokes are canned, the laugh track is present, and you’ve met all of these characters before. It’s not, for what it’s worth, mean-spirited though, the characters seem to actually, mostly like each other, and there’s as much underlying warmth as an incredibly mediocre sitcom first episode can have. So it has that going for it. You’re not going to watch it, and you shouldn’t, but there’s something to be said for TV Land’s ability to adopt the old-fashioned sitcom for the modern age, as least from a technical perspective. But that’s about it.

Will I watch it again? No, it’s not worth watching and it’s not funny. That said, it’s pleasantly inoffensive, and carries on the legacy of old-time sitcoms into a new era, if that does anything for you.

 

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