Trophy Wife is an endearing new ABC sitcom with a star-studded cast that fits into the "new" era of modern families portrayed on television, as one woman tries to fit into a family with her husband's two ex-wives and their children.
Kate, played by Malin Ackerman, shed her partying ways once she married the older Pete, and the name of the show wants you to assume that she's this trophy wife. But she actually isn't a dumb, hot young thing who marries an older man with money and spends her days socializing with friends, shopping and getting her nails done. A character like that wouldn't be likable.
But Kate is. She wants to be a good stepmom. And although she might not succeed at times, her heart is in the right place.
Trying hard is where the comedy comes in. Those moments that go wrong while she's trying to be a responsible parent are funnier and done smarter than the hot stepmom jokes and other comments that go along with that. We'll let it slide if those cliches are only reserved for the pilot because it's old. (I could also go without the voice-overs as well.)
Kate's efforts might be a bit more easy and life a little less hectic if it were just her, her husband, Pete, and his children. But Pete's two ex-wives are also regularly around -- Diane, played by Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden and Jackie, played by Michaela Watkins, who's had a ton of TV guest spots and spent one season on Saturday Night Live.
Pete's ex-wives also provide some comedy because they're at opposite ends of the hard-to-deal-with spectrum. Diane is over-ambitious, a surgeon and a former Olympic athlete. She's controlling and disapproves of Kate. With Pete, she had two teenagers. Jackie, on the other hand, is quite neurotic and knows how to push Pete's buttons in a different way. She's into jewelry design and organic food co-ops. With Pete, they adopted a Chinese boy named Bert.
It's quite easy to see how Kate is the more normal one of the three women and why Pete and the two ex-wives didn't work out. However, I don't quite see the chemistry between Pete and Kate, but perhaps we'll see that more as the show goes on.
We see how they initially meet, but all the stuff that happens before the wedding is cut out, and Kate has already assimilated into the family, for better or worse. While ultimately it might work better that way, it forces you to believe that what Kate and Pete (played by the always great Bradley Whitford) have is real. Only time will tell if it continues to work.
Trophy Wife doesn't do any groundbreaking television, and it might not make you laugh out loud, but it's worth tuning into. Everyone is delightfully weird, and the kids are sarcastic but in a cute way.
The show is based loosely on the life of co-creator Sarah Haskins. With many characters on the show, there are different dynamics and relationships to explore. Hopefully with a lot less hot stepmom jokes.
Trophy Wife premieres tonight at 9:30pm on ABC.