Every so often a really great show comes along with a really bad name. Which results in fans of the show having to preface everything with, “I know the title is stupid, but…” It happened with Cougar Town, it happened with Dirty Sexy Money and most unfortunately it happened with Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23. I already fear that will be the problem with Trophy Wife. I personally went into it preparing to hate it. “Oh look,” I thought to myself, “a ditzy blonde is a stepmother to a bunch of unruly kids, this will be an lol fest. NOT!” But then it was an LOLfest, which meant I couldn’t say LOL because I only use that ironically. (Millenial in the hizzouse!) So I’ll say it again like an adult who has a high school degree and a grasp on the English language — the show actually was pretty funny. I’m giggling just thinking of Kate getting stuck in that desk. (Gotta watch it to get the giggle.)
Malin Ackerman plays Kate, Pete’s (Bradley Whitford’s) third wife. Because she’s young and blonde, the powers that be decided that they should label her a trophy wife. But she is not that, not even from the get-go. She eagerly jumps into her new role as Pete’s wife and the step-mother of his three children (two from his first wife, one from the second) and tries her best to make it work for everyone. There’s never a moment in the pilot where she’s made to look like a gold-digger or an airhead or some other slur that we often ascribe to trophy wives. She’s just a young woman who got thrust into a life that she never planned for herself. But she makes the best of it in an incredibly endearing and funny way. Her likability however does not mean that the two ex-wives are harpy shrews dead set on ruining Petes’s new marriage. Instead Wife #1 (Marcia Gay Harden) and Wife #2 (SNL alum Michaela Watkins) manage to stand in contrast to Kate without coming off like the enemy. Similar to Modern Family, the pilot sets up the idea of three different families all strung together by one common thread. In Modern Family, it’s Jay — and in Trophy Wife, it’s Pete.
While the show’s nowhere near the level of beloved comedies like 30 Rock and Arrested Development and early seasons of The Office, it’s important to remember those pilots also weren’t near the level of their own beloved selves until further into the first season. It takes time for comedies to develop their rhythm and find their way. It’s why I always try to give the shows with promise a chance — if I hadn’t done that, I never would’ve ended up falling in love with shows like Happy Endings or Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23. In a pilot season where promising new comedies seem few and far in between, Trophy Wife is the only one that I ask viewers to give a chance. If only to prove that you don’t have to be racist to be funny (*cough* Dads *cough*).