Fall 2013 Pilot Review: Trophy Wife

Airs: Tuesdays on ABC at 9:30 EST

Timeslot Competition:  NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), The Mindy Project (Fox), The Voice (NBC), Supernatural (CW)

Premise:  A  young woman (Malin Akerman) struggles to adjust after falling for an older,  twice-divorced dad of two (Bradley Whitford) and gaining an instant, complicated family.

Pre-show Thoughts: I was concerned when I heard the title. “Trophy wife” is not a particularly flattering term to call a women and it perpetuates the concept of women that use their sexuality for personal gain and the idea that women are basically accessories for men to look good so I wasn’t expecting much from the show right off the bat.

However, the trailer made me change my mind. Kate didn’t seem to be with Pete for his money and seemed to genuinely want to make things work with this new family, even if she went about it poorly. This made me feel a lot better about the show and I thought that this could actually be a show that I really enjoyed.

Post-show Thoughts: This is a fairly clunky pilot, which is typical for a comedy. The voiceover in the beginning serves as a quick way to catch viewers up on how Kate met Pete (and his family) then we transition into a scene of Kate drunk in Pete’s ex-wife’s car before the show goes back and shows how we got to that particular moment in time and what happened afterward. So just in terms of a timeline, the episode is a little scattered.

Overall, the show has potential. It’s obvious that Kate cares and wants to do a good job as a stepmother and I like the relationship between her and her stepdaughter. I’m glad they didn’t make them hate each other while having the older stepson have a crush on her. That would have been the stereotypical route to take, and the show is quick to dismiss that path. Similarly, Pete’s first wife very obviously looks down on his new relationship but the show never joins her derision. So for that, I am  optimistic about the tone of the show going forward.

It does have some things to smooth out, however. Is this a show about a new stepmom growing into her role as a co-parent and wife or is the show about the family (including the ex-wives) as a whole unit? The voiceovers suggest that the show is primarily about Kate but then the scenes without her (like the one at the pet store) became somewhat extraneous. It doesn’t feel like a cohesive show yet, but I think it could become one with time.

It also didn’t do a very good job introducing Meg or Pete as a character. From the pilot, we get a basic, very narrow idea of what each of the other characters is like (which I’m assuming that characterizations will evolve over time as the other characters are in fairly constrained and stereotypical roles) but from the pilot, we at least have a starting point for the character that I don’t think we got with Meg or Pete, who presumably are the two most significant adults with whom Kate has a relationship.

I’ll probably watch a few more episodes to see if the show is able to find it’s footing. It showed enough promise that I think it could be good, especially with Malin Akerman as a lead.

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