Trophy Wife is another show about an extended family riddled with high-caliber actors. It’s funny, but even more importantly, full of heart.
Trophy Wife should ascend to the top of your comedy heap — if not all of your new shows — not only because of the talent involved, but because it’s genuinely warm and funny. Yes, we’ve only seen one episode, and premieres get that special treatment to get your attention as fast as possible. I’d like to think showrunners have figured out by now the episodes that follow are just as important to keep our channels tuned.
- Kate meets Pete at a bar after she falls into him and breaks his nose.
- At the hospital, she meets his entire family and he asks her out to coffee.
- Next thing we know, they’re married and she’s adjusting to being a stepmom and wife.
- Son Warren writes a questionable essay at school about milky grapefruit breasts and Diane (ex-wife #1) immediately thinks he means Kate.
- They run into daughter Hillary who is drinking vodka out of a water bottle, which Kate downs to protect, and she gets drunk.
- Meanwhile, Pete and ex-wife #1, Jackie, are trying to replace two dead hamsters and Kate’s BFF is driving her stepson, Bert, around while he insults her and bribes her to buy him toys.
The title is deceiving
Malin Akerman stars as the Trophy Wife, Kate. I always imagined trophy wives to be beautiful, ditzy and maybe a little slutty. A woman a man marries to show off on his arm without expecting much other than sex. Kate offers so much more than your average Trophy Wife.
Kate is younger than her new husband, Pete (Bradley Whitford), by a couple of decades and she’s gorgeous. She’s not ditzy, but she’s a lot of fun. The premise is that she was a fairly hard-partying girl until she met Pete and settled down.
Kate has been written as a grounded woman who cares about her husband and wants to be a good stepmother. She got an insta-family and they’re not easy on her, despite her desire to be one of them.
Who does Kate get to play with every week?
Pete has two ex-wives, Diane (Marcia Gay Harden) and Jackie (Michaela Watkins). Between them they have three kids, Hillary, Warren and Bert. Each one has his quirks, but it’s obvious pretty early on they’re all going to get along like one big happy family.
Diane was the first wife, a successful doctor who wants badly to look down her nose at Kate, but it’s out of principle and pecking order rather than being warranted. She’s going to do what she can to preserve her rank.
Jackie, the second wife, is an earthy type who wants her nose in everybody’s business. She wants to do things like switch out the hamster that died at her place with the one that’s still alive at Pete’s so he can explain death to their son, Bert. She gets along with everyone, and makes Kate look like a member of Mensa.
Meg (Natalie Morales) is Kate’s best friend and her only connection to the world she left behind. She fits the title of BFF perfectly, as she easily adapted to Kate’s new life and even gives rides to the kids when nobody else is available.
What’s so funny about any of this?
Malin Akerman has been funny in every comedy role she has had. She has a natural comedic grace. She seems like someone you would want to hang out with, and that’s what makes Kate such a great character. You really want her to be happy. I’d even eat her burnt breakfast.
Kate talks like a friend to her stepchildren, and in doing so, she let slip how she got drunk at Lollapalooza by sneaking in vodka in a water bottle. The next thing you know Hillary was getting ready to go to a concert with her friends and doing the exact same thing.
When Diane told Kate to give Warren her water, Kate chugged it to keep Hillary out of trouble. Until that happened, Hillary didn’t like her. Diane was already disgusted with Kate thinking Warren had written a story about her in his school paper describing “her breasts heaving like milky grapefruits,” and this upped the ante for the day.
It seemed Kate couldn’t win, but not only did she find out who actually had those milky grapefruits while in her drunken state, Hillary finally found respect for her new stepmom and fessed up to her crime. Kate came out on top.
The kids have great lines, too. When Meg and Bert were out driving around, he locked her out of her car and let fly a string of insults I could only aspire to say out loud. This was one of his many doozies, “You’re not even a real grownup. Your car is full of garbage and shoes!”
Explaining why comedy is good is not easy
I’ve always found it difficult to tell someone why a comedy is funny without acting out the best lines and trying to get them to laugh. Obviously, I’m not going to do that here. The bottom line is Trophy Wife deserves a spot on your fall lineup. There’s no canned laughter, because they’re confident you can provide your own. I’m confident, too.