'Ben and Kate' Review: An Almost-Brilliant Comedy That Forgot the Laughs
'Ben and Kate' Review: An Almost-Brilliant Comedy That Forgot the Laughs
Laurel Brown
Laurel Brown
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
I have never felt so conflicted about a show than I am about Ben and Kate. This new FOX comedy seemingly has everything I like -- excellent acting, solid storytelling, an interesting plot. And yet, somehow, I didn't really like this show the way I should have.

I think that's because I was expecting the comedy to be funny. In that, I was disappointed.

Ben and Kate tells the story of an adult brother and sister bringing their dysfunctions together in order to make one big, happy family. Ben (Nat Faxon, who won an Oscar last year for co-writing The Descendents) and Kate (Dakota Johnson, daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson) love each other but have chosen to lead very different lives. Kate had a daughter (the ridiculously adorable Maggie Elizabeth Jones) at a young age and has worked hard as a waitress to be responsible and support the child ever since. Ben, on the other hand, has simply remained a child.

This begins to change when Ben rolls into town at a pivotal moment in both siblings' lives.

All of this makes for a good setup for a comedy. It's just that Ben and Kate is nothing but setup. There were a number of times during the pilot episode when I almost was ready to laugh. But usually I decided not to. I can't blame the acting for this. Dakota Johnson is charming and lovable as a serious woman on the verge of being silly. Similarly, Nat Faxon is a Peter Pan-type who actually has the potential to grow up. Their requisite quirky friends (Lucy Punch and Echo Kellum) fall just on the right side of over-the-top.

I like these people. I just don't like it when I don't laugh.

Here is the really crazy part about Ben and Kate: I might decide to like it in the long run. After all, I have despised many a pilot of comedies I eventually came to love. Ben and Kate might fall into that category, and I feel like I need to find out.

Should you watch it? The answer is probably yes. Based on what I have heard from other critics, this is the kind of comedy that makes a whole bunch of people laugh hysterically for a solid 22 minutes. I personally don't know what they're laughing at, but I choose to believe that so many intelligent, TV-savvy people can't be wrong.

That, in the end, is why I plan to keep watching Ben and Kate, even if it doesn't work for me now. The laughs have to be somewhere in this high-quality comedy production.

Ben and Kate premieres on Tuesday, September 25 at 8:30pm on FOX.

(Images courtesy of FOX)


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