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Single Parents Review: The Kids Save the Day in This Promising Comedy

Meet the tykes keeping adults on their toes in ABC's new family comedy

Malcolm Venable

ABC's Single Parentshas promise. Though the first episode wobbles in trying to balance the sweet and sentimental stuff with its saltier, funnier edge, Single Parents could become a gem in ABC's family comedy lineup once it sharpens its edges.

Maybe you hadn't noticed, but people don't really believe they have to be married or partnered to raise a kid anymore. Twenty-five percent of U.S. parents living with a child are unmarried and only half of Americans bother getting married at all, a huge shift from the Leave it to Beaver days of yore. This is the groove in which Single Parents finds its comedy, with sad sack Will (Taran Killam) becoming the defacto leader, as well as the pet project, of a group of other single baby mommas and daddies.

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They include bleeding heart/hovering mom Angie (Leighton Meester), hipster space cadet Miggy (Jake Choi), Type-A momager Poppy (Kimrie Lewis) and Douglas (Brad Garrett), the uptight conservative-leaning father of twins. These parents find kinship in the comic mania of juggling play dates, school assignments, mini-meltdowns and the like all by yourself. In the first episode, Will, who hasn't had a date (or sex) in years and is all consumed with mermaids, unicorns and other trappings of his daughter's life, is rescued by Angie and the gang, given the support he needs to take off the hideous track pants and get back in the swing of things.

Single Parents' has an insightful goofiness about it that's absolutely endearing, and will likely be a balm for exhausted single parents keen to see a show that knows their struggle is real (assuming, of course, they have time to even watch TV.) It needs just a little more finesse to find its true north in terms of tone, and how to best employ the marquee talents Meester and Garrett, who sometimes feel underused as Killam's adorkable dad thing hogs most of the spotlight.

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But what really makes Single Parents sparkle are the kids. Kids are adorable no matter what they do, but Single Parents' kids are, as a bloc, Single Parents' main attraction. Granted, they're pretty much all precocious tykes too grown-through-script to be speaking to adults in the way they do, and they're all uniformly painted as wise beyond their years and advisors to their overwhelmed guardians. Yet they're legit funny, deft actors who steal pretty much every scene they're in, proving why that old showbiz adage "Never work with children or animals" has so much merit.

Single Parents premieres Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 9:30/8:30c on ABC.