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'Happily Divorced' Premiere

About.com Rating 1.5 Star Rating

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Happily Divorced

John Michael Higgins and Fran Drescher in the premiere of 'Happily Divorced' on TV Land

Photo courtesy of TV Land

The Bottom Line

Happily Divorced is another unfortunate entry in TV Land’s growing stable of irritating retro sitcoms, wasting a potentially interesting premise (a woman and her gay ex-husband live together) with painfully broad performances and hackneyed jokes.

Pros

  • Potentially interesting premise

Cons

  • Loud, overly broad performances, especially from Fran Drescher
  • Sloppy plotting
  • Stale jokes

Description

  • 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

TV Land’s approach for its original sitcoms has quickly become formulaic, and just as quickly grown extremely tiresome. While Hot in Cleveland has its charms thanks to a strong cast, and Retired at 35 is mostly inoffensive, the new Happily Divorced is the most unpleasant of them all, with a shrill, grating lead performance from Fran Drescher, stale jokes that land with a thud, and lazy plotting that barely passes the most basic sitcom standards. It’s a shame, because the premise, drawn from Drescher’s real life, is a bit edgier than other TV Land fare, and has the potential to be fresh and fun. Instead it just falls back on recycling the most clichéd sitcom bits around, dulling any possible boldness inherent in its setup.

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.

Disclosure: A review screener was provided by the network. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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