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Outmatched Review: Fox Sitcom Can't Clear Its Own Low Bar

It's just not funny

Liam Mathews

You know what you're getting from a broadcast network sitcom with a laugh track. The stodgiest of genres isn't even really competing with inventive comedy like, say, What Did Jack Do? But even grading on a curve, Fox's Outmatched scores low. It's a sleepwalk through cheap sets and unfunny jokes.

The show, which premieres Thursday, Jan. 23, stars Jason Biggs and Maggie Lawson as the thoroughly ordinary parents of four children, three of whom are geniuses. They're average Joes who like funnel cakes and The Masked Singer, and they can't relate to the opera-writing, molecular gastronomy-cheffing, talking Wikipedias they created, except for their one below-average daughter, who's their favorite. All the sitcom clichés you might expect are present: precocious kids, dumb dad, black best friends, anti-intellectualism. The only twist on the formula is that Jason Biggs isn't fat like a traditional blue-collar sitcom husband. If it weren't for the references to weed vapes, Outmatched could have been time-warped from the early '90s.

The jokes aren't funny, and the actors deliver them in an unnatural cadence that calls attention to how unfunny they are. I managed one weak chuckle in the pilot, when Biggs' Mike mixes up Michelangelo the painter and Michelangelo the Ninja Turtle. It's crude, too. This is not the kind of family sitcom you can watch with kids, unless you want to explain what the joke is when it seems like the teenage son is 3D printing a vagina. And it suffers from a common problem that happens when characters are smarter than the people writing them, which is that it dumbs down the "normal" characters into simpletons and makes the genius children into little Frasier Cranes.

If you want to watch a crude family sitcom, go watch reruns of Married...with Children on Hulu. At least that has a distinct point-of-view and characters with charisma to go with its crudeness.

TV Guide rating: 1/5

Outmatched premieres Thursday, Jan. 23 at 8:30/7:30c on Fox.

​Jason Biggs, Oakley Bull, Jack Stanton, and Maggie Lawson, Outmatched

Jason Biggs, Oakley Bull, Jack Stanton, and Maggie Lawson, Outmatched

CR: Michael Becker/FOX