ONEBC could have found his next big family comedy – and its secret weapon is a guy best known for a show about cock graffiti.
Home finances, premiere Wednesday, starts from a simple premise: Three siblings, each in a very different income group, navigate their complicated financial relationships to remain bound as a family. Topher Grace repeating his run as loving dweeb Eric Forman The 70’s show, anchors this new series as wet blanket older brother Tom Hayworth. The Impossibly Sympathetic Jimmy Tatro, best known for his side split as Dylan Maxwell in American vandal, plays Tom̵
It’s fascinating to see this series premiere on ABC about a decade after the network unveiled its Emmys juggernaut Modern family. Although it debuted at the height of a global financial downturn in 2009, the mockumentary-style sitcom (which was extraordinarily popular with affluent audiences) reset the recession-priced Pritchett family and became a trusted hit with both critics and audiences for years. . Below Mod FamDuring his reign, the sitcom genre seemed to follow suit, at least on the broadcast, until Donald Trump’s 2016 election sparked renewed interest in the working class.
Unlike Pritchetts, Home finances‘Hayworths has to think about money. When Tom, a struggling novelist, draws attention to asking his absurdly wealthy little brother for a loan, Sarah mocks the idea of their ultra-rich brother being quarantined at his old mansion in Seattle – where his pool boy became a TikTok influencer. The show handles its class tensions with a light touch and wisely uses its genre identity to steep these awkward conversations with humor and compassion. Its early episodes sparkle with promise, largely thanks to the cast’s light chemistry – who all seem to understand their tasks perfectly.
It’s hard to imagine anyone but Grace – who is a producer as well as a contributor – playing Tom with such lovable but disgusting ease. (“I won the most promising debut novel at the Nantucket Book Festival in 2009, non-fantasy or science fiction,” Tom boasts at one point. “I think I can handle a wedding bowl.”) Like Eric Forman, Tom is kind-hearted, a little subtle and deeply insecure. His wife, Marina, played by a lovely sardonic Karla Souza, is a retired lawyer who, despite the family’s financial misery, mostly spends her time listening to murder podcasts and wondering aloud if she should go back to work. (I mean … probably ?!) The two share a daughter, Camila, and a couple of infants.
McGee, meanwhile, hits all the real comic notes as older siblings without work who just want to prove she still knows best (even when she doesn’t). Authors Michael Colton and John Aboud also clearly know what they have in supporting player Sasheer Zamata, who plays Sarah’s wife, Denise – a level-headed, astrologically obsessed earth sign who just wants her in-laws to relax in hell. Their children, Kelvin and Shamiah, spend most of their time shaking Sarah when her pranks go out of hand.
But it is Tatro who, in each of the three episodes available for review, reliably runs off with the show. The actor’s charisma ensures that his character with a percenter who loves nothing more than to remind people that he bought his palace home from Matt Damon is simply too oafish to hate.
It does not hurt that Connor, too, as we learn early on, gets a divorce – forcing him to reconsider his life and find out such boring things as what he calls “custody” with his daughter Gretchen. Tatro never loses the heart of his clueless character, making scenes as one of his characters desperately sings his sadness to the tune of Flo-Rida’s “Low” as strangely charming as they creep into it.
The series unfolds in chapters as Tom keeps his family’s story a book secret. Tom’s story is thankfully sparse and prevents the familiar gimmick from overtaking the series. It’s unclear how long we’ll have to wait before Tom reveals his plans to the family – but given how invested he seems to be in keeping it a secret, it seems inevitable that an inventory is on the way. Hopefully, when the larger clan finds out, Connor is not too angry; after all, he just borrowed Tom a significant amount to keep his family afloat.
“It’s unclear how long we’ll have to wait before Tom reveals his plans to the family – but given how invested he seems to be in keeping it a secret, it seems inevitable that an inventory is on the way.”
Which brings us to perhaps the one weak link in this series: Although Souza gets the most out of her role, Marina feels underdeveloped. It is unclear why the retired lawyer, given the family’s apparent financial problems, has not seriously considered returning to his practice. The series nods to Souza’s Mexican roots by letting her roast her TV husband in both English and Spanish with their bilingual daughter – and by showing her in-laws greet her in broken Spanish – but we know little about Marina beyond her legacy and her apparent drinking problem. (As the episodes continue, Marina’s one calling card becomes the endless parade of wine glasses in her hand – a tired trope that wears out quickly.) Hopefully, in future episodes, Souza will have more interesting work to do.
Sarah and Denise’s bread can also fall under a complicated light. Although many of the jokes at their expense feel organic – just as Sarah insists she’s not interested in astrology, while Denise counts: “It’s a very ‘Capricorn’ thing to say” – other jabs, like when their kids ask a cousin , which pronouns her dolls use, makes me feel a little more pointed. All in all, though, the two are the most compelling couple in the series, and McGee and Zamata jump off each other with wonderful ease – especially as their characters save over the cultural value of Say yes to the dress.
It’s impossible to tell, for now, whether this charming sitcom will rise to fame from predecessors such as Modern family. But its exploration of the class with soft focus feels like a fruitful reason for a broadcast sitcom in 2021 – and the smart casting, the specific but flexible premise and focus on the heart all feel right on the money.