James Canellos ’17/ Emertainment Monthly Staff
This summer gave us the surprise comedy We’re the Millers, which was about a drug dealer who creates a fake family in order to smuggle weed past the Mexican border. Although the Miller family in that film was as fictional as the premise, it still had numerous hilarious moments and was casted very wisely. CBS’ new comedy The Millers could have learned a thing or two from this made up family that shares the same name.
The Millers is about a divorced news reporter named Jack (Will Arnett) who’s finally deciding to embrace his new single lifestyle. That is until his father Tom (Beau Bridges) gets inspired by Jack and leaves his mother Carol (Margo Martindale). Out of guilt Jack allows his overbearing mother to stay with him, while his dopey father stays with his sister Debbie (Jayma Mays).
The problem with this show already lies within the summary just given. It feels like this show has been summarized a million times before. This is a classic odd couple pairing, with hardly anything inventive to bring to the already crowded pact of sitcoms that mirror the plot of The Millers. The only thing slightly different is the fact that both children have to take a different parent, making it an even worse divorce for Jack and Debbie as opposed to it happening when they were younger.
Having seen Gregory Thomas Garcia’s previous shows My Name Is Earl and Raising Hope, I was hoping for the same kind of out of the ordinary family dysfunction that gave those shows such a nice twist in their pilot episodes. Garcia is a man who likes to take offbeat premises and transform them into something unpredictable, that also has a good heart. The Millers desperately needed that, especially since its premise is so played out. James Burrows, the director of this episode, whose been involved in iconic sitcoms such Cheers, Frasier and Taxi to name a few, couldn’t help out the lazy and inept script Garcia penned.
The jokes and characters that Garcia created feel so repetitive, constantly relying on the old people jokes and crude jokes that feel out of place and forced. Basically, Beau Bridges’ whole character is an “old person joke”; he has nothing else to offer aside the fact that he’s elderly and therefore doesn’t even know how to use a microwave. These jokes fall flat a majority of the time, but instead of leaving that bad joke alone and moving on the characters keep adding on to it. It’s like they’re beating a horse that’s already dead…just leave it alone.
I’m still incredibly shocked that Margo Martindale decided that this should be the first show she should star in after being consistently good for 25 years. She’s an excellent character actor and Emmy winner, who is trying her hardest to work with very little. The energy that she tries to bring to the show is admirable. The show actually worked best when she and Beau Bridges worked together, but that only lasted for five minutes and had a not so happy ending. Will Arnett seems like he’s just here to collect a paycheck until they make a new season of Arrested Development. Arnett is clearly struggling to play the straight man of the series. It feels like he’s suppressing himself from playing the arrogant characters that made him famous. Finally, Jayma Mays just had nothing to do here. It felt like she was taking up space, when in fact she can be funny when given the right material.
The Millers is a played out, been there done that program that wants to be Two and Half Men so badly that it retreats to gross out humor the second they feel like they’re not being edgy enough. Garcia collected such a great cast, but doesn’t know what to do with them, and can’t decide what kind of tone he wants for the show. He gives the audience nothing to look forward to in any upcoming episodes. Maybe it’s not too late for Garcia to adapt this into a comedy about a family that’s trying to smuggle weed past the border.
Overall rating for The Millers: D+