From time to time, reality intrudes on our valuable TV watching time, and we realize we can’t cover everything we love. So, we’ve asked some of our friends to step in and help us out when Real Life gets in the way. And today is one of those days. Please enjoy this Trophy Wife post from Mary.
Hi there! I’m very excited to be guest blogging, and even more excited that I’ll be writing about ABC’s delightful new family comedy (with a terrible name) Trophy Wife!
We’re now four episodes in, so I thought I would kick off my coverage by talking about each of the main characters with some gifs and hopes of what else I’d like to see from them as the season/series goes on.
Malin Akerman plays Kate Harrison, third wife to Pete and step-mom to his three children, and is also credited as a producer of the show. For me, the Pilot was her best episode. She’s a mostly reformed party girl, eager to make a place for herself in her new family, but never gratingly insecure about it. The carefree attitude and playfulness Akerman brings to the material keeps Kate from ever coming off like the vapid trope the show is unfortunately named for. She performs physical comedy (an adorable booty dance, fantastic purse-swinging and desk-kicking in a classroom, and finally a drunken pratfall, all in the pilot) with a loose-limbed grace that adds to Kate’s appeal. I’ll be interested to see how Kate develops as a woman in addition to a wife and mother. Thus far it seems she doesn’t work, but cooks a lot of breakfasts and jumps at the chance to share in the duties of raising her three step-children (the role of “Crap Master” as coined by Pete.) I’d like to see what Kate does aside from folding laundry and making snacks while the kids are in school.
Alright, this is where I tell you I’ve never seen The West Wing and you guys all scream at me to watch it while I defensively shriek that THE EMOTIONAL CLIMATE HAS TO BE RIGHT FOR ME TO START A NEW SHOW SOMEDAY PROBABLY IT WILL HAPPEN I PROMISE I’LL LIVETWEET IT.
Now, moving on: one of the nice balances struck with the first four episodes is that no one character has been obviously pigeon-holed by the writers as the ‘Michael Scott’ of the show. Which is to say, even the most cartoon-y of the family members – Jackie – still has her moments of grace under the pressure of co-parenting. Bradley Whitford as Pete Harrison has his moments of being out of touch, sure, such as when he repeatedly posts the name of his daughter’s crush on her Website Page (trademark courtesy some stellar dubbing on Pretty Little Liars when they couldn’t clear “Facebook”) when he meant to use the search bar. But Whitford also has an easy chemistry with each of the actors playing his children, occasionally tense but never mean interactions with both of his ex-wives, and for sure enough confidence and sex appeal to make his relationship with Akerman’s Kate both believable and enjoyable to watch.
I. LOVE. JACKIE. I could try to transcribe her best lines to you, but really so much is due to Michaela Watkin’s superb delivery that I really am just going to insist you go watch and experience the full Jackie, right down to her Jackie Heart (episode three “Cold Case”). She’s mother to Bert, second ex-wife to Pete, and a dippy hippie who eats cashew cheese (I can’t back ALL her decisions, okay). She would rather buy Bert a puppy than tell him his hamster died, but also unflinchingly explains to him what “dementia” means when he receives a(nother) birthday present from his grandfather in the fourth episode. She’s owned eight businesses, including but not limited to: real estate, pickles, wearable art (aka pink turquoise jewelry), and teaching seniors acupuncture on her front lawn, and in her spare time does bar crawls with the “surprisingly violent” drinkers in her Tai Chi group. As far as hopes for her character as the series continues, all I can say is: ALWAYS MORE JACKIE.
When her teenage children, Hillary and Warren, spill salsa on the couch and conspire to hide the huge stain with pillows, Marcia Gay Harden’s Diane serves quesadillas for dinner that night. The sleek white dinner table is hilariously lit as if with a single harsh bulb like a police interrogation scene. Diane spoons guacamole onto her plate, asking what other condiments her children might enjoy. “Sour-sour cream.” “Chocolate.” “Relish.” “Mustard? …Relish,” they frantically volley. “I was thinking of something a little more…(and she insufferably pronounces just the Spanish words with a lilting Spanish accent like every Latino news anchor)…picante.”
But that’s Diane; she pronounces the Spanish words that way because she probably speaks Spanish along with the German she employed with Pete in the Pilot, and six other languages. The dinner table interrogation is just the beginning of course: it takes a Salsa dancing session, and a rental of the movie La Bamba to be watched on the suddenly pillowless still stained couch before her kids crack under the pressure and admit what they did. “Why can’t you just punish us like a normal parent!” Hillary wails. “Normal parents don’t get results,” Diane returns icily. Her kids hug her, shell-shocked, and dutifully agree with her assertion that they love her best. It’s her need to hear them say it that melts her exterior just the right amount.
Warren, played by Ryan Lee, is Diane and Pete’s fifteen year old son. He writes Poseiden fanfiction about himself and his sister’s hot older friend (and her “milky grapefruits”), and often cheers “Mom, YES!!” or “Dad, YES!!” complete with fistpumps when one of his parents enters the room. He’s also been known to make fart-noises with his mouth while taking exaggeratedly large steps look endearingly silly rather than gross, and he is apparently Jackie’s go-to phone buddy when she needs to stay awake on long drives. I’d like to see more of Warren with Jackie and Bert, and more of his sweetly enthusiastic nerdiness. Especially if it involves more fanfiction.
Played in the Pilot by Gianna LePera and thereafter by Bailee Madison, I’m…hoping for better things for Hillary. The thing is, in the pilot she has a nice moment where, after lying to her parents and forcing Kate into a disadvantageous situation, she comes clean to everyone of her own accord and accepts punishment with a modicum of grace for a teenage girl. Madison’s material has skewed far more towards entitled tantrum throwing and lots and lots of lying. In one episode she lies to her parents about going to a party, manipulates Kate into getting her out of her grounding to go to a movie, and then sneaks off to go to another party. Upon being caught by three of her parents at said party, all she really does is complain about how embarrassing it is to have gotten caught publicly. Granted, she’s a teenage girl, and every story needs conflict, I just hope there’s a little more focus on parts of her personality other than shrieking.
Albert Tsai is definitely in contention for most gif-able kid on scripted television. The writers consistently give him cute one-liners and he delivers them without getting too precocious which is just what I like to see from child actors. While Bert and Jackie (his adoptive mother) are fun together, he and Warren have also had some fun storylines together – the combo of Warren, Bert, and Jackie is particularly sweet with a great capacity for hijinx, and I hope the writers keep on exploring that grouping. Bert is also perfect for mining warm moments from Diane, which is no small feat since it’s Diane.
Kate’s best friend since 8th grade is played by Natalie Morales, whose Tumblr, as it turns out, is a great place to go when you’re looking for Trophy Wife gifs, of which there are tragically few. Meg is a nice antithesis to even the slightly fractured family values of the Harrisons; the official drink of her breakups is called MegNog and includes at least three different kinds of vodka. The animosity between Meg and Hillary could translate into some comedic gold if Meg and Diane are thrown together at some point. I would LOVE to see those to trapped in an elevator for a whole episode and end up bros.
Mary is a military wife, mother, and certifiably pathological fangirl. Though she’s written before, this is her first foray into blogging. Her interests include livetweeting, cooking, baking, buying, and – most importantly – eating food, puns, and deciphering her toddler’s attempts to speak English. Follow her #mamatweets, #wifepeopleproblems, and #islandproblems (it’s not all complaining, honest) on Twitter at @maryarrr