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Review/Recap: How to Live with Your Parents (for the Rest of Your Life) – "How to Get off the Couch"

Kristina Carroll ’16 / Emertainment Monthly TV Editor

How To Live With Your Parents (For The Rest Of Your Life)  - "How to Get off the Couch" starring Sarah Chalke, Brad Garrett and Elizabeth Perkins. Photo Credit: ABC/Jordin Althaus.
How To Live With Your Parents (For The Rest Of Your Life) – “How to Get off the Couch” starring Sarah Chalke, Brad Garrett and Elizabeth Perkins. Photo Credit: ABC/Jordin Althaus.

For those of you who love stupidly funny television, you will definitely enjoy ABC’s newest sitcom, How to Live with Your Parents (for the Rest of Your Life).  The show is full of dumb jokes, cheesy scenes, and a rather played out plot—the show is frighteningly similar to NBC’s The New Normal.  If unoriginality irritates you, don’t bother with How to Live with Your Parents (for the Rest of Your Life), but if you’re simply looking for a quick laugh, then you should definitely give it a try.

The pilot episode begins with a flashback, in which we see into protagonist Polly’s (Sarah Chalke) life 6 months ago.  She has shown up on the doorstep, clutching her daughter Natalie’s (Rachel Eggleston) hand in the pouring rain.  Her parents Max and Elaine Green (Brad Garrett and Elizabeth Perkins) answer the door, only to find that their daughter has just left her husband Julian because he used their rent money to adopt a highway.  They gladly take her in, but Polly is less than thrilled, seeing as her parents weren’t exactly the best role models for her growing up.  As she enters their home, she is reminded of her hippie parents’ wild lifestyles, and her mother’s tendency to go through relationships at an alarming rate.  She fears for Natalie, because she doesn’t want her to grow up having the same experiences that she had as a child.

Six months later, Polly and Natalie are still living with the Greens.  The pilot gives us a glance into this new life, and trust me, it is an interesting one.  We soon realize why Polly is anxious about exposing Natalie to her parents’ lifestyle; it’s because they’re absolutely crazy.  In fact, Brad Garrett and Elizabeth Perkins are arguably the best part of the show, just because of their humor.  Their outrageous comments and decisions throughout the entire show lead to disastrous yet entertaining situations.  For example, their decision to combat Natalie’s fear of dogs by adopting a puppy results in turmoil when Polly (who is also apparently afraid of dogs), comes home to find the “monster” staring innocently up at her.  Long story short, Polly runs frantically around the house before hiding in a closet, expensive objects fall to the floor and break in the midst of all the chaos, and Max (Brad Garrett) falls victim to a surprisingly painful puppy bite.

The chaos doesn’t end there.  The rest of the episode features a date that goes terribly (which is always entertaining), an adorable, sassy child, and plenty of awkwardness for all characters involved.  However, something that I wasn’t expecting after all of this humor was the ending.  It was unpredictable in that it shifted to a more serious tone, and gave off a “moral of the story” sort of vibe.  After going through the day’s events, Polly realizes something very important about herself, and her outlook on life.  Her views on her parents change for the better, and she comes to believe that living with them may actually have a positive impact on not only Natalie’s life, but hers as well.  This is certainly the “adorable” moment of the show, and leaves you with a sense of happiness that the inappropriate humor, which was weaved throughout the show, failed to capture.  This episode is definitely worth watching, just for the ending itself.

Polly has obtained a job at a smoothie counter, and soon finds out from her boss Gregg that a regular customer known among her coworkers as “Jewish Superman” is interested in taking Polly out on a date.  At first she is very hesitant, mostly due to the fact that her mother has been bugging her for six months about how she wants to find Polly a man.  However, after much convincing on Gregg’s part, she decides to go, but tells her parents that she is going to a work-related party, because she doesn’t want to seem like a hypocrite to her mother, seeing as she has spent her entire life complaining about her mother’s chaotic love life.  She entrusts them with Natalie, but is nervous about their capabilities as babysitters and isn’t sure about whether or not they will be able to handle her for an entire night.    When she leaves, the Greens see “Jewish Superman” pick her up in his car, and figure out that she has in fact lied to them about her date.  Despite having been deceived, Elaine is surprisingly happy about this, as she has been begging Polly to go on a date since she moved in six months ago.

While on the date, Polly is very tense, and can’t take her mind off of Natalie.  Eventually, however, she loosens up and starts dancing with “Jewish Superman”, whose real name is Luke.  Meanwhile, the Greens bring Natalie to an animal shelter in an attempt to help her overcome her fear of dogs.  While there, they accidentally let it slip that Natalie’s mom has a new boyfriend.  Natalie starts freaking out, and chaos ensues as the puppy bites Max.  Soon after, Polly returns home, and was forced to drive back from the date after Luke mixed a Dazedan with his martini.  She finds Julian there, and he tells her that Natalie called him begging to help resolve the chaos.  Polly is infuriated when she finds out that her parents told Natalie about her “boyfriend”, and right when you think things couldn’t possibly get any worse, we see Julian’s empty car rolling in reverse down the driveway, followed by Polly getting chased into the closet by Natalie’s newly adopted puppy.

Once things calm down a bit, Julian helps Polly bring wasted Luke home, only to find out that he has no way of getting inside.  Julian comes up with what he believes is a brilliant idea, and breaks Luke’s glass door.  Unfortunately, this sets off Luke’s house alarm, and in a state of panic, Julian and Polly flee the scene leaving poor Luke collapsed on his doorstep.

When Polly is lying in bed going over the many interesting events of the day, she realizes that she was the one who had so many fears, and not Natalie.  She was the one afraid of dogs, but convinced Natalie that she was the one with this fear.  Similarly, she was the one afraid to sleep alone, but reassured herself that the reason why Natalie slept in her bed every night was because Natalie was afraid of the dark.  She is grateful to her parents for helping her come to this realization, and decides that living with them actually might be beneficial to her and Natalie in the long run.

There are two main problems I had with this episode; the first is that it lacked originality.  The plot was notably similar to that of The New Normal.  This was a little frustrating for me to watch, because although the jokes were unique, I felt like I had seen the basic plot not to long ago.  Therefore, in order for the show to gain success I think it needs to work harder to achieve a sense of originality.  The second issue I had with the episode is that I didn’t know where it was going from there.  The ending, as I mentioned before, was cute and happy, but left little room for excitement.  It seems as if the entire conflict of the TV show was solved within the pilot episode, which is quite problematic.  The only thing that could solve this would be if the writers have something major in store that they’re not revealing to their audiences.

Overall, I’d give this show a B-.  It’s one of those shows where you watch it when you can’t really find anything else on.  It will be sure to provide you with a number of laughs, but nothing memorable enough to keep you wanting more. The characters have great personalities, and the episodes are packed with a continuous flow of wild situations.  However, the show lacks creativity, and doesn’t really possess the “wow factor” that sitcoms need to really be successful.  How to Live with Your Parents is off to a good start, but definitely needs to take it a step higher if it wants to be up to par with today’s greatest sitcoms.

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