Think of it as “Not Married with Children.”
The new Fox comedy “The Mick” carries on that network’s proud tradition of milking mirth from bad parenting. It’s about as unoriginal as you can get, but its blatant outrageousness, lack of any moral center and celebration of exuberant American indulgence are cumulatively comforting on some level. We’ve all been here before; now, can they make it funny?
The answer is yes, thanks to some excellent casting and breakneck writing.
Key to it all is the title character, Mackenzie “Mickey” Murphy, played by “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” mainstay Kaitlin Olson. Olson has, over the years, shown herself game for anything on “Sunny” (and happy to go without a moral center), and “The Mick” offers her variations on a theme that’s been well-established.
Mickey is a 30-something do-nothing who visits her wealthy sister’s mansion in search of a handout during a party. Within minutes of her arrival there are other party crashers: the FBI. And Mickey is left caring (or not caring) for three children as her sister and brother-in-law are taken away for tax evasion.
Her charges include 17-year-old sulking spoiled beauty Sabrina (Sofia Black-D’Elia); obnoxious spoiled middle-schooler Chip (Thomas Barbusca); and charming-if-eccentric spoiled youngster Ben (Jack Stanton, who turns into a comic powerhouse). Mickey’s initial response to parenting? Hit the bottle and forget the kids.
But then comes news that her sister and brother-in-law have fled the country and things get real. No, they don’t, but they get a bit more sober as Mickey has to deal with Sabrina’s sexuality, Chip’s being bullied, Ben’s habit of swallowing nonfood items and other crises. Mickey is aided by do-everything housekeeper Alba (Carla Jimenez), but she’s still inevitably overwhelmed, incompetent and wrong-minded.
It’s all absurd — somehow the family retains its wealth and fancy surroundings — but then it’s supposed to be. Like “The Simpsons,” “Married with Children,” “Malcolm in the Middle” and other Fox sitcoms, the ridiculous reach is what makes “The Mick” work. There is solace in realizing your family isn’t near this bad and humor in realizing it could be.
Tom Long is a longtime culture critic
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