The fall TV season is underway and, despite the ever-lower numbers of women in the writers’ rooms, it’s being hailed as the year of the women: 17 out of the 25 new scripted shows on the Big Five networks are female-centered and many were created by women. In this series, comedian Leila Cohan-Miccio watches the new female-centered shows and evaluates how realistic their portrayals of women actually are. And now, Up All Night.
Up All Night, former Saturday Night Live writer Emily Spivey’s sitcom about new parents, opens beautifully: Reagan (the delightful-as-always Christina Applegate) and her husband Chris (Will Arnett, shedding his GOB persona for the first time since Arrested Development) have just found out Reagan’s pregnant and they’re terrified. Reagan calmly posits that this might be a good thing: that way, when Chris dies, she’ll have someone to love her. The short scene captures so much: two married people who seem well-matched and like each other (a rarity on TV), the insane, tangential thoughts you have right after you find out life changing news, and the weird contradiction between wanting a baby and being absolutely terrified by the possibility.
The show stays strong from there. Up All Night follows Reagan and Chris as they adjust to their new world as parents. Chris stays home with adorable baby Amy (who is so cute, I want to eat her little face) and Reagan goes back to her job as the producer for a talk show starring demanding Ava (Maya Rudolph, unabashedly dusting off her Oprah impression). The show manages to skirt the cliches of the work/life balance mini-genre: it’s blessedly free of scenes where, say, Reagan has to give an important presentation but her boobs are leaking (LOL, because she’s a mom!) or Chris can’t figure out how to change Amy’s diapers (LOL because he’s a man! Men don’t change diapers!). Reagan and Chris struggle more with not being able to go out all night, which is a really fun, unexpected angle. Top it off with solid jokes about everything from the placement of fancy vs. normal cheeses in grocery stores to Ian Ziering, and this is definitely one to add to the DVR.
Sure, I have my quibbles: I want to know more about the relationship between Reagan and Ava – are they just coworkers or were they friends first? I don’t love a running joke about how Ava eats her feelings, which seems a little cliche for an otherwise smart show. But those quibbles are just that: I’m excited to see how this one develops.