In the pilot episode of Single Parents, Brad Garrett's hard-shelled conservative Douglas joins Taran Killam's overly sensitive Will Cooper in singing "How Far I'll Go" from Disney's Moanabefore comically swinging elementary-aged Rory's (Devin Trey Campbell) tiny frame around in an impromptu dance, after repeatedly assuring that he most certainly does not partake in that sort of frivolity. Absurd moments like this one make the freshman comedy a pure joy to watch, which is why ABC should do the Lord's work and green-light a second season already.
New Girl co-creator Elizabeth Meriwether and producer J.J. Philbin bring their signature quirk and sharp wit to this refreshing series about a group of singletons leaning on each other while struggling to maintain their own personal identities outside of parenthood. Much like Zooey Deschanel's perpetually upbeat Jess, the series centers on cheery outsider Will, whose earnest disposition immediately contrasts with the group's more grounded approach to raising their kids. But rather than shun the overwhelmed dad drowning in the "vortex" of parenthood, the group comes together to remind him there's more to life than PTA meetings and school bake sales. Will's enthusiasm for fatherhood is played for laughs, but it never feels malicious. Even as the other parents critique Will's sad dad ways -- the North will always remember that hideous Mermaid bag -- the show makes it clear that caring deeply and trying really hard aren't necessarily bad.
It's the perfect antidote for today's turbulent times, where an overwhelming news cycle makes it tempting to check out emotionally and devolve into bitter cynicism. Single Parents is that much-needed escape from a chaotic political landscape, acting as a friendly reminder that while the world might literally be on fire, nice things still exist within it.
Strong writing gives the show firm legs to stand on, but its greatest strength is the treasure trove of delightful characters who make up this diverse ensemble. Killam is sublime as the adorkably energetic Will and Gossip Girl alum Leighton Meester brings her undeniable likability to Angie, a blunt single mom with an extremely co-dependent son. Meanwhile, Kimrie Lewis's brassy Poppy tops off an affable group that also includes overwhelmed newbie dad Miggy (Jake Choi) and stern widower Douglas. Although the adults might run the show, their pint-sized co-stars certainly hold their own thanks to witty dialogue and complex characterization. It's rare to see 7-year-olds on TV portrayed as just as interesting as their on-screen parents, but the show does just that, utilizing its fresh-faced talent like fashion-obsessed Rory, Douglas's scarily self-sufficient twins Emma (Mia Allan) and Amy (Ella Allan), Angie's clingy son Graham (Tyler Wladis), and Will's mellow daughter Sophie (Marlow Barkley) as equally essential parts of the narrative.
In the age of peak TV, where there are simply too many shows, Single Parents is not only a worthwhile experience, but watching it is basically an act of self-care. Scientific research, and by that I mean literally just me bingeing this series, indicates that one's happiness quotient increases by at least 99 percent per episode consumed. Already establishing itself as one of the best new shows out there, the Season 1 finale proved this series has plenty more story to tell after the introduction of Angie's rockstar ex-boyfriend (Adam Brody). Plus, there are two will-they-or-won't scenarios still dangling over our heads like fresh fruit. We're just getting to know these dynamic characters and the charming world that they inhabit, so to be robbed of seeing more of that through a premature cancellation would be just as devastating as a seminal fantasy series killing off its major black character in chains.
Do the right thing, ABC. Give us another season of Single Parents.
Season 1 is currently available to stream on Hulu.