The Bottom Line
- Stars Jaime Pressly, Katie Finneran, Kristi Lauren, Aisha Dee, Chad L. Coleman, Eric Sheffer Stevens, Kevin Rahm
- Created by Sherry Bilsing-Graham and Ellen Kreamer
- Premieres November 30, 2011, at 9:30 p.m. EST on Fox
Not that the daughters don’t deserve the hatred. Annie’s daughter Sophie (Kristi Lauren) and Nikki’s daughter Mackenzie (Aisha Dee) are every bit the reprehensible mean girls that their mothers describe them as in that opening scene, and they seem to have no qualms about insulting, undermining and manipulating their mothers (and, to a lesser extent, their clueless, often absent fathers). On pretty much any teen comedy or drama, Sophie and Mackenzie would be the villains (they’re essentially really hot sociopaths), but this show tries to make them into bizarrely sympathetic protagonists. That’s the worst thing about Teenage Daughter: After spending two-thirds of an episode selling the idea that Sophie and Mackenzie are horrible human beings with no concern for anyone else’s feelings, the show then throws in a blatantly disingenuous sentimental moment so it can backtrack and assert that actually, deep down these people really love each other. It’s condescending and insulting, and somehow even worse than all of the scenes in which the characters mistreat each other.
The actors don’t exactly help to make the characters sympathetic, either; pretty much everyone wildly overacts, so that their contempt for each other is painted in really broad strokes, making the occasional tender emotional moment even harder to buy. Finneran is by far the worst offender, practically screeching all of Nikki’s lines, gesticulating maniacally and contorting her face half the time. Pressly is only slightly more toned down, and the two teenage actresses play their characters like they’re a couple of Blair Waldorf’s minions from Gossip Girl. Chad L. Coleman as Nikki’s golf-pro ex-husband Gary and Eric Sheffer Stevens as Annie’s musician ex-husband Matt play variations on the oblivious doofus, but even they have a tendency to exaggerate their insensitivity. And the dynamic between Annie and her ex-brother-in-law Jack (Kevin Rahm), on whom she has a huge crush, is so over-the-top that it’s almost like a parody of a TV will-they-or-won’t-they scenario.
With its braying laugh track and ugly sets, Teenage Daughter is like a crasser version of one of TV Land’s faux-retro sitcoms. It’s a throwback to the Fox of the early ’90s in the worst way, with the feel of a Married … With Children spin-off that would get canceled after three episodes. Let’s hope that’s a sign of this show’s eventual fate.