The Bottom Line
- Potentially interesting premise
- Loud, overly broad performances, especially from Fran Drescher
- Sloppy plotting
- Stale jokes
- Premiere airs June 15, 2011, at 10:30 p.m. EST on TV Land
- Stars Fran Drescher, John Michael Higgins, Tichina Arnold, Rita Moreno, Robert Walden, Valente Rodriguez
- Created by Fran Drescher and Peter Marc Jacobson
Guide Review - 'Happily Divorced' Premiere
That setup finds Fran (Drescher), a self-employed florist, divorced from her husband Peter (John Michael Higgins) when Peter reveals that he’s gay. The two still love each other as friends, and since they can’t sell their fancy house in a down economy, Peter merely moves into the den when the two split up. So they’re a little like Will and Grace, a now-platonic straight female/gay male couple who behave like they’re married. There’s plenty of potential for comedy in that arrangement, but the first episode shoots right for the most obvious jokes, the most painful of which involve Peter’s stereotypically gay habits and Fran’s previous obliviousness to them. Her parents and best friend (Tichina Arnold) mock her 18-year sham of a marriage via groaningly obvious gay jokes, all of which is played off as light and funny. The show could have examined a new kind of domestic relationship, or it could have really stretched the network’s comedic boundaries, but instead it uses jokes that were already old when Will & Grace was airing in the ’90s.
And then there’s the acting, which ranges from standard sitcom hammy to desperately over the top. Drescher’s performance is so loud and broad that she seems perpetually on the verge of running offstage and assaulting audience members just to get a laugh. It’s hard to pay attention to the emotions or actions of the characters when the actors are practically jumping out of their skin with every line. On top of that, the set design and shooting style looks bargain-basement cheap, which is standard for TV Land and not really a problem if the writing and acting are up to par. But when the actual creative output is this terrible, all you can do is stare at the ugly sets and tacky outfits and wonder if anyone in the entire crew has any idea what they’re doing. At least there’s an amusing, catchy old-school theme song; feel free to tune out right after that.