Don’t Ignore ‘Trophy Wife’

Written by Robin Hitchcock
I probably could have gone an entire season, or, network willing, three or four, without really paying any attention to the existence of upcoming ABC sitcom Trophy Wife. To begin with, it is an ABC sitcom not called Happy Endings (RIP). And my cynical side assumes it got an instant greenlight for its passing resemblance to Modern Family:
The cast of Modern Family Trophy Wife
And it is called Trophy Wife. But do not ignore Trophy Wife! 
1. It is co-created by Sarah Haskins.
Of Target Women fame. I know you’ve missed her. You’ve probably cried while staring out a rainy window, silently begging for her to come back to us. And now she has. Haskins has an uncanny ability to hilariously dissect tropes, and family sitcoms are begging for the Target Women treatment. (She already got a head start with her Doofy Husbands segment, above.)
2. It is loosely based on her own life.

Bradley Whitford and Malin Akerman in Trophy Wife
Haskins married an older man who has three ex-wives, which is even one more ex than Trophy Wife‘s heroine Kate finds herself dealing with. But the important takeaway from this real-life inspiration is that Kate is loosely based on Sarah. Seeing Malin Akerman in the pilot was like watching Sarah Haskins wearing a very convincing Swedish supermodel mask. Akerman clearly sees what makes Haskins so charming and has adeptly built her character on those quirks. And the script sings with Haskins’s awkwardly funny voice.
3. The rest of the cast is also awesome! (And full of women!)
Supporting cast of Trophy Wife
The ex-wives are Oscar-winner Marcia Gay Harden and Michaela Watkins, who, incidentally, was in the same lass of short-tenured and utterly wasted SNL featured players as Casey Wilson. Right now their characters are broad stereotypes (Stern Doctor First Wife and Hippy Dippy Second Wife), but this is only the pilot, and the actresses have enough talent to develop these characters as the writing finds its footing. And it’s clear from the pilot that they aren’t just going to be antagonists to Kate, but co-parents and maybe unlikely friends.
Natalie Morales (the Middleman one, not the Today Show one) plays Meg, Kate’s best friend, still in carefree youth mode when Kate suddenly becomes a frazzled stepmother. It’s sort of the reverse of the dynamic that between Mindy and Anna Camp’s character on The Mindy Project. While that subplot never found traction, I hope we see a lot more of the changing relationship between Meg and Kate.
And the trophy husband, so to speak, is Bradley Whitford, if you’re into that sort of thing.
4. We are all getting older and maybe need to surrender to family sitcoms instead of “friendcore” (TM Emily Nussbaum) shows.
Ugh, and like, buy life insurance and wash our sheets more than once a month and stop eating Doritos for breakfast. NEVERMIND I hate this argument.
4, Take 2. It’s really funny.
You can watch the pilot now on ABC’s website.

One Comment

  • Posted October 15, 2013 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    I started watching this on your recommendation, Robin, and it’s rapidly become my favorite new fall show (out of an admittedly weaksauce crop — is anyone else as obsessed with Sleepy Hollow‘s irresistible terribleness as I am??). Trophy Wife may not be breaking much new comedic ground, but it’s quite delightful, and a women-created, women-starring sitcom is (sigh) still enough of a rarity to be remarkable.

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