Joy of Relativity
A family comedy so real it almost hurts
When a new comedy shows up as fresh, original and painfully hilarious as Sons & Daughters
(Tuesdays at 9 pm/ET on ABC) at first I want to cheer. And then I start to worry if it can survive. Call it Arrested Development
ABC is calling this partially improvised, very offbeat series about a messily extended multigenerational family a “unique hybrid.” Not exactly the next According to Jim, if you get my drift. But unlike Arrested, which turned off so many by constantly going over the top, Sons & Daughters is defiantly low-concept, mining laughs of recognition from the cringe-inducing small embarrassments, annoyances and resentments that define long-term, inescapable family relationships.
As humane and wise as it is amusing and well played, Sons & Daughters understands certain essential truths: No one keeps secrets. Everyone holds grudges. Kids hear, and understand, everything. Love is forever, but sex? In one scene, a married couple with a stagnant sex life lie in bed reflecting on the days before things got in the way of their sex drive. Things like mortgages, depression and cable.
From youngest to oldest (Max Gail and Dee Wallace Stone are the grandparents), everyone in this large cast shines with individual quirks that still seem universal. Keeping it all together: Fred Goss (star and cocreator) as Newhart-like mensch Cameron, whose attempts to keep the peace among parents, kids and siblings invariably backfire.
I hope Sons & Daughters isn’t too good to be true, because the truer it feels, the funnier it gets.
“You get to shoot guns, jump out of airplanes and come home to your family. It’s damn near perfect.” Such is the terse, macho mind-set behind The Unit (Tuesdays at 9 pm/ET, 8 pm/CT, CBS), David Mamet’s military drama about a special-ops team and the women who keep the faith at home while being kept in the dark. Lacking the messy, gritty ambiguities that doomed FX’s Over There, this show could flourish behind NCIS. Not that I’m enlisting.