Fall Pilot Review – BETTER WITH YOU on ABC
What? From “Friends” producer Shana Goldberg-Meehan comes a comedy about three different couples at various stages in their romantic relationships. There’s a couple in a happy, long-term relationship and not married. Another couple is in a brand-new relationship and unexpectedly motivated to make a rush to the altar. Last but not least, there’s a longtime married couple who’ve been together for 35 years but may have a new take on life.
Maddie, a lawyer, and Ben, a hotel manager, are a career-oriented couple who are head-over-heels in love. Both in their 30s, they’ve been together for nine years but never felt the need to get married. They know each other inside and out and are in a relationship marked by contentment and affection. They’ve thoroughly analyzed their commitment to each other and say they’re happy with their “valid life choice,” something they proclaim often — and loudly. Maddie’s younger sister, Mia, is a free spirit and creator of a paperless web invitation company. She is in a very passionate seven-and-a-half-week-old relationship with Casey, a musician in an avant-garde metal band. Both in their 20s, they’re smitten. Things are moving along at a fast rate for these two lovebirds who can’t wait to discover the oh-so-many things they don’t know about each other. The girls’ parents, Vicky and Joel, have been married for 35 years. Like Mia, they’ve adopted a carpe diem sort of philosophy. One reason for this new attitude is that they lost a good portion of their savings when the economy tanked. At this stage in their lives, they don’t feel the need to take things too seriously.
When Mia invites Maddie and Ben to meet Casey, they think they’re meeting just another in a long line of boyfriends. But Maddie soon realizes how serious the relationship is when Mia and Casey excitedly announce they’re engaged. Surprised by the news, she feels like her little sister has leapfrogged over her — jumping ahead of her in some major, life-changing way — and sees the light it shines on her own life choices. In addition, Maddie worries that Mia is just plain moving too fast. But reluctant to be a negative voice, she resolves to be supportive and let her parents, the critical Vicky and Joel, be the ones to object when the time comes. Mia is nervous about introducing Casey to her parents, who are hard to please or impress — they once made a former boyfriend of hers cry. But when Mia tells them that she and Casey are getting married, Vicky and Joel greet the news with celebration, much to Mia’s delight and Maddie’s surprise. Evidently they’d given up on Maddie and Ben ever marrying. Now they seem all too eager to toast Mia and Casey’s sudden union. Things get even more complicated for Maddie when it turns out that Casey has shared something with Ben but not with her, and then Ben accidentally blurts it out – that Mia is pregnant! Although Vicky and Joel are ecstatic to become grandparents, Maddie wonders why her sister kept this from her.
Maddie and Ben have been together a long time, and the relationship they have works, but they’ll come to learn that there may be value in Mia and Casey’s impulsiveness and spontaneity. And both sisters could surely learn something about relationships from their long-married parents. With three very different relationships intertwined in one family, is it free thinkers vs. over-thinkers, or will each couple begin to see things a little bit differently?
Who? BETTER WITH YOU stars JoAnna Garcia as Mia, Jennifer Finnigan as Maddie, Josh Cooke as Ben, Jake Lacy as Casey, with Kurt Fuller as Joel and Debra Jo Rupp as Vicky. BETTER WITH YOU is from Bonanza Productions Inc. in association with Silver and Gold Productions and Warner Bros. Television. The series is created by Shana Goldberg-Meehan and executive-produced by Goldberg-Meehan and Greg Malins (“How I Met Your Mother,” “Friends,” “Will & Grace”).
Where/When? ABC, 8:30/7:30c Wednesdays, between THE MIDDLE and MODERN FAMILY.
Why (Why Not)? Ultimately, I want this show to be better than it is. The cast alone is great, but brought together for the pilot, the show is all over the place and not really as funny as it thinks it is. It’s hard not to love Joanna Garcia and Jennifer Finnigan’s dedication to character, but even here, they seem shrill and mis-applied. I think that if these characters are given enough time, they will eventually have people falling for them, but based on one episode, I’m not sold.
How? DVR, watch a few, and see if it gets better.