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The Cool Kids Review: Old Coots Are a Total Hoot

These wild seniors are at the head of the season's class

Malcolm Venable

Looking for an insightful, intellectually curious modern comedy about energetic Baby Boomers who are reckoning with becoming dignified senior citizens? You should probably watchGrace & Frankie.

Fox's The Cool Kidstrades in low-hanging "old people are so old" fruit. It makes a running joke of Sid's (Leslie Jordan) homosexuality and flamboyance; it operates from the position that people over 50 or 60 (or however old these folks are) wanting to have full, vibrant rewarding lives is silly and that good sex at their age is gross and ridiculous. In the pilot episode at least, The Cool Kids panders to stereotypes, cliches and tropes and boy, it's a good time.

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The Cool Kids follows a gang of mature folks in a retirement community causing trouble with their antics. David Alan Grier is Hank, a gruff guy who's almost always instigating the mischief; Martin Mull is Charlie, a raconteur with unbelievable life stories and an unreliable memory; Sid (Jordan) likes to pop pills, talk smack about everybody and deliver all manner of shade and sass; and Margaret (Vicki Lawrence) is the group's confident and cunning mastermind of mischief.

Basically, they're new characters living inside The Golden Girls' oft-discussed Shady Pines, trying to break free of the rules instituted by the man while being respectful of their aches, pains and poor eyesight. The pilot's setup -- a death leaves a seat open at Hank and the boys' literal and metaphorical table, and Margaret comes to seize it -- constructs the world of the show solidly, and by the time it concludes viewers feel assured The Cool Kids at least knows exactly what it is and has many stories to tell.

Cool Kids

Cool Kids

Patrick McElhenney/FOX

Sophomoric humor isn't everyone's cup of Metamucil, but those who like zany, mildly inappropriate zingers in the tradition of that Fox hit Married...With Childrenwill find these old coots to be quite the hoot. When Sid, for example, has been dispatched by his buddies to dissuade Margaret from infringing on their boys club by seducing her, he ends up curled on her couch howling at her story about a longshoreman and an enema gone wrong. "I been there!" he sings, and they guffaw some more since, you know, he's gay and gay people do butt stuff. The Cool Kids may not be as sophisticated as It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, even if it does bear traces of the Sunny tone since Charlie Day is a Cool Kids producer, but it's assuredly familiar, while teasing endless outrageous bits, like playing with people's oxygen tanks, to come.

Leslie Jordan, as he's done in Will & Grace, brings panache and zest to his scenes as he floats through them like a silk scarf. Vicki Lawrence makes Margaret feel as tough as she is whimsical and girlish. David Alan Grier's angry old man schtick starts to grate after a while and needs some finesse to prevent him from being entirely one note, and there are points where Martin Mull's Charlie seems spacier and more vacant than likely intended. But the ensemble slides into a groove easily and even glides into the requisite moments of sentimentality and reflection smoothly. Naturally, The Cool Kids delves into the anxieties around aging, mortality and loss that a series about senior citizens has to but those forays are universal, since everybody's gonna croak at some point, and the show spends more time making good dirty fun of this dread than wallowing in it.

The Cool Kids premieres Friday at 8:30/7:30c on Fox.