So the new comedy 1600 Penn left me feeling meh. Whatever. It’s a show. It stars actors. There’s a script. As a comedy enthusiast I wanted to like it. Even though I’ve never seen Book of Mormon, I’ve heard enough great things about Josh Gad that I wanted him to succeed.
I don’t know, it’s just the concept of a modern-day dysfunctional family living together in the White House seems better suited for a Saturday Night Live sketch or a web series. The premise in itself is funny. Just think about it for a second: the most powerful family in the world has all the same problems as you! There’s so much promise.
Unfortunately these series premiere wanted so badly to prove this “the people in the White House are the family next door” point that they went above and beyond with the family dysfunction. There’s the dad (Bill Pullman) who can’t find a balance between family and work, the stepmom (Jenna Elfman) hated by her stepchildren , an out-of-control but well-meaning son (Josh Gad), a secretly pregnant goody-two-shoes daughter (Martha MacIssac) and two ragamuffin younger children (Andre Holland and Amara Miller) who will no doubt deliver precocious lines throughout each episode.
Take away the actual White House and it’s just another family comedy.
“Well Jenni,that’s exactly what they wanted,” I’d say in a fight with myself about this show.
But then I’d immediately counter back, “then what’s the point of setting it in the White House if it’s going to be all about the family?”
“Touche Jenni!” I’d say in triumph since I won that argument against myself.
I will say that there is a silly government subplot with the president during the episode, but it exists merely to give the president’s son Skip a chance to save the day. (After he bungles it again and again and again.) It felt very ’90s Tim Allen sitcom-y to me. And by that I mean, not very believable. If this show’s going to work, it needs to find a comfortable balance between being a political comedy and being a family comedy. Otherwise it just feels like a rehash of That’s My Bush and over other family sitcom from that era.
With all this said, I will watch it again. I just want it to be better the next time. So 1600 Penn, make it happen?