If the demise of a goldfish fails to evoke any emotional response, NBC’s new comedy series “Extended Family” may not be your cup of tea. The sitcom immerses viewers in an alternate reality where divorces are treated lightly, resulting in everyone living happily ever after. However, chaos ensues when a goldfish dies, prompting exaggerated facial expressions and hand-wringing as Mom and Dad grapple with breaking the news to their 13-year-old daughter.
Jon Cryer, now sporting a shaved head, takes on the role of the frantic Dad, employing a whine reminiscent of his earlier work in “Two and a Half Men.” Premiering on December 23 and returning after New Year’s, “Extended Family” centers around the post-divorce dynamics between Dad (Cryer) and his ex-wife (Abigail Spencer). Their vision of maintaining a friendly and resentment-free life is challenged by the harsh reality, especially as observed by their 13-year-old daughter, the voice of reason in the midst of their divorced bliss illusion.
While aspiring to capture the essence of a show like “Modern Family,” “Extended Family” falls short in terms of quality and laughs. Unlike the single-camera, laugh track-free format of “Modern Family,” “Extended Family” relies on a three-camera setup with a laugh track, resulting in a lackluster comedic delivery. Contrary to the show’s title, the pilot fails to present an actual “extended” family, with the only outsider being the ex-wife’s new love interest, portrayed by Donald Faison.
The pilot’s attempt to explain its premise through a prolonged sequence featuring the Boston Celtics owner breaking the fourth wall feels forced and does little to engage the audience. If the goal is to attract viewers who resonate with the idea of amicable divorce, “Extended Family” may struggle to find a substantial audience. While the TV Blog wishes success for those involved in the show’s creation, the prospects for an extended stay seem doubtful.