September 17, 2012

TV: Guys With Kids (NBC, Wed 8:30)

The title alone is probably enough to tell you whether you'll like Guys With Kids. If you're thinking "Oh, yeah, that'll be good, 'cause guys don't know anything about parenting!," then you'll love it. If, on the other hand, you're thinking "Oh god, please not another show based on reductionist gender cliches and 'men are stupid' jokes," then you'll hate it. (And hey, really? You actually think in phrases like "reductionist gender cliches"? Gee, you must be fun at parties...)

Because that title, Guys With Kids, really is all there is to the show. It's guys! And they have kids! And they can't figure out how to live life like real guys, because the kids keep getting in the way! You're laughing already, aren't you?

There are three guys. Anthony Anderson is a stay-at-home dad with four kids. An actual line of dialogue: "I'm a stay-at-home dad with four kids. Do you know what I do all day? I stay at home! With four kids!" He's married to Tempesst Bledsoe, who works doing god-knows-what outside the home. Jesse Bradford is a divorced dad, whose ex-wife (Erinn Hayes) is a shrill, castrating bitch; I choose those words very carefully, with full awareness of how harsh they are, because this character is a walking recruiting poster for the National He-Man Woman Haters Club. And Zach Cregger has the "traditional" marriage; he works (again, the actual nature of anyone's job is never mentioned) while wife Jamie-Lynn Sigler stays home with the baby.

The children are all young enough that they aren't so much characters as props; Anderson's oldest are old enough to speak, but aren't allowed to do so beyond an occasional offscreen "we're causing trouble over here, Daddy" shriek.

The characters are thinner than crepe paper; the situations overly familiar (I've got a hot date, but it's my weekend with the baby! Whatever shall I do?); and I didn't laugh once. Guys With Kids is a show with no ambition, and it fails to reach even the painfully low bar it sets for itself.

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