Fall 2014 Review: The McCarthys

3 Nov

Three of the McCarthys

Years ago dysfunctional families were in on sitcoms in a big way – families that didn’t quite work, that, while they maybe didn’t actually hate each, maybe they did. Married with Children was one of the forefathers of this genre, but Family Guy and Arrested Development are two other prominent examples. These ran counter to the essentially functional standard sitcom families of time immemorial that fought amongst themselves but within reason. Modern Family, though, and its success turned this dysfunctional genre on its head – combining the disorder of dysfunctional families – with genuine love and affection of the nuclear families which ruled the ’90s and made this the a popular option for modern family sitcoms.

The McCarthys feeds right into this legacy. They’re a family of blue-collar Bostonians, who love their sports and their hard-core Boston accents, but also love one another. There’s the parents and four adult kids, three boys and a girl. Protagonist and good son Ronny is gay, which in another generation would lead to grumpy reluctance veering towards acceptance at best. But this is a post-Modern Family family, so the blue-collar family doesn’t quite get what being gay entails, but they embrace it nevertheless, wholeheartedly, trying their best, though accidentally overcompensation along the way

The premise features the Ronny potentially moving away, all the way to Providence to take a new job. His parents freak out, wanting him to be happy, but, especially his mother, who is closer to Ronny than her other children (shared love of The Good Wife), doesn’t want him to leave. Eventually, his father, a high school basketball coach, convinces Ronny to take a job as his assistant, even though he knows almost nothing about basketball, partly to spend more time with him, and partly because Ronny will help him get a major recruit whose mom is gay.

The feaux modernity behind The McCarthys makes it’s a CBS comedy. The gay main character is a new-ish concept, as is the obvious acceptance by the type of family who twenty years ago might not have taken the news so well. The family is wacky and inappropriate. The clichéd jokes, the overbearing family, the regionalness, the big, broad punch lines, and the laugh track are as old as the first sitcoms.

It’s not quite Partners/Men at Work/We are Men level bad; mostly because it’s not actively patently offensive (backhanded compliment, maybe?). It’s not good though, it’s not funny, it’s not well-written and there’s just about no reason to watch. You probably didn’t need me to tell you that, but there it is.

Will I watch it again? No. It was a CBS sitcom, so there was honestly little chance to begin with. But while the best compliment I can muster is that it’s not out and out offenisve, there’s absolutely no reason to watch this show for pretty much anyone. It will probably be gone not too long after it debuts and forgotten by almost anyone who had ever heard of it to begin with.

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