Tv Review: United We Fall Season 1 Episode 1

united we fall s01e01There’s been a fair few “Ahhhh, our kids are a nightmare” based comedies over the years, because children are horrible and who in their right mind would have them and allow the human race to continue? The most recent of these was Jason Biggs’ sitcom Outmatched and in some ways United We Fall is a little similar, as parents Bill (Will Sasso) and Jo (Christina Vidal) have to try and keep control of their two very young kids.

Rather than being actively controlling and evil these kids are just weird though, with one waking Bill up in the middle of the night and telling him that she knows how he’s going to die, Jo moans “I love her but she’s just strange” and in what’s actually a surprisingly decent line Bill complains “You know she names her bananas and does their screams while she eats them”. Also along for the ride is Third Rock From The Sun’s Jane Curtin as the kid’s grandmother, who moved in because she was sick but then got better, which apparently “Was the worst miracle” because she’s an overly critical turd.

Jo’s brother Chuy (Guillermo Díaz) is another family member who says cruel and mean things about their parenting style, but there is some positivity at least as when Bill and Jo have to attend a parent teacher meeting they presume said teacher is going to be harsh too, but instead she claims that the kid is great and that they’re fantastic parents. The scene seems a little forced, as Bill and Jo comment themselves, and why they got called in to school for such a meeting seems bizarre, but at least it’s a brief break from the flak they get from everyone else.

That doesn’t last of course, as somewhat weirdly one of the kids then has a prolapsed rectum. Which I’m sure many people will think I’m making up, but no, this show really is that weird sometimes, and so we’re off to ER and an all too brief cameo from the ever wonderful Marc Evan Jackson as a doctor, before Jo and Bill are hauled off to a young social worker seemingly so that Jo can give a big speech about how fucking terrible life is when you have kids.

As mainstream network sitcoms go this isn’t too bad, it’s certainly a lot better than similar affairs, Sasso and Vidal make for very appealing leads, and the kids are quite cute and reasonably decent at being strange too. On the downside the supporting cast are a little too good at being deliberately annoying, and it is far too repetitious, the central concept of the show concerns the difficulties of parenting and how annoying it is when others critique your choices, but there’s way too many examples of this in the opening episode and it starts to get a little dull after a while.

If this is to survive and run for decades like many an ABC sitcom then it really needs to expand its remit, it can’t just be the parents having to put up with people having a go at them. It could also benefit from being slightly less saccharine too as the ending to the episode really is rather cloying, but if it manages this and perhaps leans in to the stranger elements it could be a show that’s worthy of your time, at least if you have a fondness for largely traditional sitcoms.

★★★

Alex Finch.
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