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Season 1, Episode 1, “Pilot”

Picture of the cast from ABC's Home Economics

Featuring from ABC’s Home Economics
Photo: ABC

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The first episode of the ABC sitcom Home finances is hardly an extension of its two and a half minutes trailer, which focuses on the bond between the three Hayworth siblings despite the fact that they each belong to different economic strata. The show, co-created by Michael Colton and John Aboud, clearly seeks to build on the network’s well-established brand of comfortable family comedies. The basic premise is created quickly (in a voiceover, no less): Tom is a struggling middle-class writer, Sarah is broken after losing her job as an advisor to high-risk students, and Connor is a dirty rich finance guy who just bought Matt Damon‘s extravagant house. Home finances centers on how they overcome this wealth gap and stay close. Sitcom does not offer much depth or nuance beyond its ethos of family over money, at least not early on – instead trying to shine a light on a well-picked cast and their chemistry.

Topher Grace, who is also an executive producer, returns to the small screen as Tom Hayworth, also the narrator of the series. Tom secretly uses his extended family adventures as the basis for a new book after the previous one – which was about a prison baseball team in 1906 and without women in it – sold five copies. Cast, which also includes Caitlin McGee, Jimmy Tatro, Karla Souza and Sasheer Zamata, is strong. There is a relaxed vibe in all of their interactions, but writing and storytelling give them rudimentary characterization. The heartwarming humor tries to fill the gap that is left Modern family, which ended in 2020 after 11 seasons, but does not offer anything new to the genre yet.

The episode begins when Connor moves back to San Francisco from Seattle and invites his family to his newly purchased sumptuous mansion. Both Tom and Sarah find out how they can ask their younger, richer brother for a loan and get encouragement from their spouses to do so. After exploring the many rooms in his new house, they all struggle when Connor reveals that he is taking their parents to Thanksgiving in Turks and Caicos instead of doing their usual big affair. This reveals all their personal problems as Tom and Sarah reveal that they need financial help and Connor admits he is getting divorced and moved back so he can be around his loved ones again. The siblings fill up and revel in the fact that they all go through different problems together, not just by themselves, and the whole family slides down the road in Connor’s mini-cars in a nicely bound ending.

If Home finances succeed, it is because of the remarkable cast. McGee and Grace do a good job, but it’s Tatro who stands out and follows up on his credible performance as a high school senior in 2017 American vandal with the markedly different role of a rich single father. The show aims for a more modern approach to mixed families as seen on ABC from Brady Bunch, Full house, and My wife and children to newer comedies like Fresh from the boat, The middleand Modern family. That has a queer couple in Sarah (McGee) and Denise (Zamata), and apparently wants to look at how income inequality leads to actual difficulties for them as well as Tom and his wife Marina (Souza). They even squeeze in a strange moment when Tom, who is recording notes for his book, discusses this inequality, just as he encounters Connor’s housekeeper, Lupe (Lidia Porto), who overhears and gives him a dubious look. It’s a sitcom on ABC, so the scene shines over and is played for laughs as the episode ends a 20-minute run.

In his pilot Home finances focuses more on introducing interpersonal dynamics (such as how siblings’ favorite song is “MMMBop”, or how Denise and Sarah refer to each other lovingly as Lulu) rather than examining the severity of their money problems. While the episode conveys what the core premise is, it also mainly uses POC characters to support their white partners; they get no other personality traits, which is particularly gross because Zamata and Souza are amazing artists. The members of the primary trio are placed in defining forms: Tom is a rule follower, Sarah is a vegan feminist, and Connor is the carefree cool guy. These opposite types create fun exchanges, but they could also narrow character growth and performances as the show continues. The first episode ends with everyone asking Tom what his upcoming novel is about – he does not tell them, but explains in a voiceover that it is essentially about how close he is to his family. We get a sense of this closeness, but while there is strength in the chemistry and in the specificity of some jokes, the idea is still a little too generic to generate much expectation.

Random observations

  • The show tries to construct a very specific image of Matt Damon in our heads by claiming that his house could include a Japanese bathtub, an indoor backyard, and enough closets for Connor to make it a house for his daughter’s pajamas.
  • On the same note, we agree with Sarah when she says that the actress has not made a good film after 2011 We bought a zoo? Marching and his cameo in Thor: Ragnarok would like a word.
  • To describe Tom and Connor, Denise says “I know your brothers are scorpions, but they’re good people too.” Like a scorpion, yes, that remark sounds good.
  • Souzas Marina is a former lawyer who casually joked that Connor killed his wife. It’s an amazingly subtle recall to her previous ABC role in How to get away with murder, which also featured Jack Falahee as her classmate at law school Connor Walsh.
  • We check in on Hayworth siblings throughout Home finances season one, stay tuned.

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