The setup to Young & Hungry is simple: Gabi Diamond (Emily Osment), a very broke college dropout, interviews for a personal chef position for tech entrepreneur Josh Kaminski (Jonathan Sadowski), but their growing sexual tension as employer-employee provides complications in Gabi’s life. It’s not the world’s most complicated pilot or show — it has all the basic ingredients of character, writing, humor but Young & Hungry’s first dish tastes eh to ew. It’s just a bit of a mess.
Young & Hungry is trying to be any number of sitcoms featuring The Help. At its most ambitious, the show is The Nanny but with a personal chef. “The Help” sitcoms often feature the employer-employee sexual tension, but ABC Family’s Young & Hungry takes away a lot of romantic tension by having the two leads sleep together in the pilot. (Though, this does seem like a modern twist on the convention and as Gabi obviously gets her job back, sets the series forward).
For Young & Hungry, the ingredients are there, but it all comes down to the performances. There is the hyperactive and irresponsible Gabi, desperate for a job and maybe just a little desperate. Emily Osment, best known for her days as sidekick to Miley Cyrus in Hannah Montana, has done a bit to step away from her child-actress tendencies to overact, and she has some flavor to her deliveries and squabbles with Josh’s other staff like housekeeper Yolanda (Kym Whitley) and right-hand assistant Eliot (Rex Lee).
For the supporting cast, these are all cardboard cutouts of characters we’ve seen before. Yolanda’s a snooze with nothing for Kym Whitley to do. As Eliot, Rex Lee adds maliciousness to the loyal assistant part we’ve already seen on Entourage. The worst to adapt to the sitcom structure is Jonathan Sadowski, who can’t get some of the vocal back-and-forths or a full sense of his character. The funniest and best jokes are awarded to Sofia (Aimee Carerro), an ambitious (even cutthroat) intern and best friend of Gabi’s.
Like many of its ABC Family comedies, the setups and punchlines are always too obvious to entice more than a chuckle. It’s a show you smile at sometimes as you fold your laundry or make dinner or do anything else rather than pay attention to it. This is not appointment television, nor is it not appointment television. It’s just another bland ABC Family sitcom trying to be another “the help” comedy. Don’t expect gourmet, but be content to just have something to eat.
Young & Hungry airs Wednesdays at 8pm on ABC Family.
(Image courtesy of ABC Family)