Fall television season highlights alternative family structures
By Kate Sullivan, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Wednesday, September 12, 2012
This fall’s season brings a hearty crop of new television shows, though it is hard to really pick out which rookie might hit it big. The networks bring a standard variety of already-been-done sitcoms with only a few promising looking programs. “Nashville,” airing Oct. 10 on ABC, seems to be less of a superficial, sappy Southern tale about an aging star and more of a deeper emotional drama. The show stars Connie Britton of “Friday Night Lights” as an older star forced to go on tour with a sparkly young singer played by Hayden Panettiere. The fact that the pilot doesn’t repeat “Country Strong” (2010) makes it more likely to appeal to a wider variety of viewers. NBC has a few new comedies premiering, including “The New Normal,” a twist on traditional family roles, “Guys with Kids,” your stereotypical, dude-bashing romp and “Animal Practice,” a sitcom that undoubtedly will include far too many puns about animal and human behavior. Between “The New Normal” and “Guys with Kids,” which both deal with nontraditional family dynamics, following in the footsteps of “Modern Family” success, “The New Normal” appears to be the most exciting lineup addition. NBC will also premiere “Revolution,” a new drama that seems to star a Katniss Everdeen-type heroine in a “Hunger Games”-esque world, but slightly less entertaining. Of course, none of NBC’s premiering options come close to surpassing the excitement that will inevitably come on Oct. 4, when “30 Rock” premieres for its final season. This season, CBS will also premiere new series, including “Made in Jersey,” a legal drama following a New Jersey-born lawyer who works in a top New York law firm. The constant network obsession with New Jersey is getting a little old, though this show, which is essentially “Jersey Shore” meets “Legally Blonde” (2001), might be as entertaining as going to a country music concert in the Meadowlands.
The period drama “Vegas” is also coming to CBS, staring Dennis Quaid as the real-life sheriff Ralph Lamb who is up against a mob boss played by Michael Chiklis. The show’s plot tracks the development of this 1960s town into the adult playground that is known today as Las Vegas. This one could hit it big or fall flat, but either way you might be inspired to take a personal vacation.
Dartmouth alumna Mindy Kaling ’01 also has her new show on Fox, “The Mindy Project,” which promises to be quirky and offbeat. In the pilot episode, Mindy drunkenly rides a bicycle into a swimming pool, and the episode only gets weirder from there. The humor is quick and punchy, though not as dry as some of the humor Kaling presented on “The Office.” You will — and probably should — shake your head at TLC’s latest exploitation, “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” starring the young pageant star Honey Boo Boo of “Toddlers and Tiaras” fame. Her special juice made her win, y’all, though this show is certainly going to be utter rubbish. Finally, get excited about the return of the animated and Emmy-nominated “Bob’s Burgers” and underrated “Don’t Trust the B---- in Apt. 23.” Although both shows are a little quirky for their networks, they pack some hilarious punches, and Krysten Ritter and James Van Der Beek on “Don’t Trust the B----” make for a great comedic duo. The “Dawson’s Creek” jokes, for some reason, still haven’t gotten old.