Life in Pieces, CBS' new sitcom about the ups and downs (but mostly downs) of parenthood, is rooted in reality, for better and for worse. Parents who watch the show will either feel a sense of solidarity with the characters, or experience PTSD-esque flashbacks to raising their own kids.
Clearly trying - and succeeding, at times - to be an edgier Modern Family, Life in Pieces is a single-camera comedy (on CBS, no less!) that follows the Short family and chronicles the milestones in their lives between all the mundane moments. Each episode is told in chapters, following matriarch and patriarch Joan and John (Dianne Wiest and James Brolin), as well as their children: Greg (Colin Hanks) and his wife Jen (standout cast member Zoe Lister Jones), who are new parents; Heather and her husband Tim (Betsy Brandt and Dan Bakkedahl), who are sending their oldest child off to college; and Matt and his girlfriend Colleen (Thomas Sadoski and Angelique Cabral), who are trying to forge a relationship despite the fact that he still lives at home and she still lives with her estranged husband.
"This humor is authentic," co-creator Justin Adler told critics at the TCA fall previews earlier this summer. "It comes from a real place. It's relatable."
TVGuide.com chatted with some of the show's cast members to find out which plotlines struck a chord with them based on events in their own lives. Here's what they had to say:
Baby blues: Hanks says a scene in which new parents Greg and Jen begin weeping as they're bringing their newborn baby home from the hospital was particularly resonant. "That actually happened to me and my wife when we brought our eldest home," he admits. "That one is actually ripped from the headlines, so to speak."
Ruining Christmas: A scene in the pilot, in which Heather and Tim's youngest daughter learns the truth about Santa Claus, brought up painful memories for Brandt. "I just went through this and it was heartbreaking," she says. "My daughter's best friend popped her Santa cherry. And then the whole wall comes down. She's like, 'Wait a minute. Wait a minute.' My husband just couldn't bear to tell her that leprechauns weren't real, because she builds an elaborate leprechaun trap every year. He said, 'Those actually do exist.' I was like, 'Oh my God.' But he just couldn't stand to tell her the truth."
Hard truths: As she goes to drop her
baby boy teenage son off for a college visit, Heather comes off as a stereotypically overbearing mom - to everyone but Brandt. "Is she?" the alum asks, genuinely incredulous. "To me, I just thought she seemed normal. Maybe that's informative to me about my mothering style." When we spoke to Brandt last month, her 10-year-old daughter was finishing up a stint at sleepaway camp. "She's got almost another week to go, and it's just killing me," Brandt confessed. "It's killing me. I'm like, Oh my god, am I gonna be that mom that just freaks out when the kid goes to college? Because seriously, the two weeks, it's just excruciating."
Who says parenthood isn't a full-time job? Adler drew from his own experiences when writing the pilot script for Brandt and Bakkedahl's characters. "My sister really did have a day in her life where my nephew was meeting a college guidance counselor, my niece got her period, and my youngest niece learned that everything she believed in wasn't true," he told TCA critics. "And what I think is interesting about that is, my sister [didn't] even remember that day when I brought up that I was doing it in the pilot. I think it speaks to that's what being a mom is. There's so many of those days."
Life in Pieces premieres Monday at 8:30/7:30c on CBS. Will you watch?
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