The Bottom Line
Instead it’s more like a standard single-camera comedy, with long scenes that are clearly built heavily around improvisation. Hart, who’s the only cast member not married to someone in show business (he’s actually recently divorced), stars as himself, and his inconsiderate, socially awkward behavior gives the show a bit of a Curb Your Enthusiasm feel (along with the improv, the celebrity appearances and the presence of Curb co-star J.B. Smoove). In the first episode, Hart complains about the pie at a birthday party and ends up in a fight with the eight-year-old who made the dessert. That kind of escalating social faux pas is right out of Larry David’s Curb, although Real Husbands presents it in a much more cartoonish, over-the-top fashion.
Although the show focuses on the motormouthed Hart, the funniest moments generally come from the other cast members, who are better at underplaying the jokes. Smoove is especially funny, and his background gag of doing exaggerated spit takes while Duane Martin presents the group with his latest business idea is the funniest bit in the entire episode. Hart, Smoove and Nick Cannon have the most extensive comedy/improv backgrounds (Cannon thanks to his MTV show Wild ’n Out), and they make the biggest impressions in the first episode, although Martin does get an entire subplot about his invention of breakaway suits. Boris Kodjoe and singer Robin Thicke (in his first effort at acting) mostly serve as set dressing, and guest star Nelly doesn’t add much, either.
Part of the problem is that the concept is ill-defined; although each star is introduced with onscreen text naming his famous (or semi-famous) wife, the wives never appear on the show, and there’s no mention of how the men relate to them or their careers (other than a few references from Hart to how attractive the other men’s wives are). The humor is a mix between broad, silly jokes (the first joke in the episode involves a bird defecating on Hart’s face) and slightly more clever Hollywood satire, but there isn’t anything terribly original on either front.
The one real opportunity the show has is the chance to explore Hollywood’s racial divide, and Hart does have a few pointed jokes in a scene between him and his biracial lawyer. At the very least, Real Husbands represents a different kind of comedy from BET, away from cloying, sentimental relationship sitcoms, and even if at this point it’s mostly recycling ideas from better shows, there’s the possibility that it could grow into something more distinctive and even a bit subversive.