War at Home
by Amy Diaz
Sundays on Fox, 8:30
I didn’t know they
still made sitcoms like this.
The War at Home is a
laugh-tracked, characters-talking-to-a-career cornucopia of bad-TV
clichés. The jokes are stale and the acting is awkward and completely
lacking in ease. The sole believable character is Anita Barone, who
plays a too-hot-for-the-suburbs mom, naturally.
Yes, this is that kind
of sitcom, where the dad is a hopeless schlub (or, in this particular
case of Michael Rapaport, a schmuck), the mom is a sassy smart woman who
seems wasted on her thankless job and even more thankless family life,
the daughter is a teenage sexpot and the sons are, well, boys.
In the pilot, Rapaport
kicks off the show with a riff about married life and how much more
difficult modern marriage is than the kind of dad-breadwinner,
mom-homemaker marriages of his parents’ day. Eventually, he gets around
to blaming Mary Tyler Moore for women’s having hopes and dreams. Throw
in a few Nixon jokes and some Grand Funk and you’d have yourself a
mighty fine little 1970s sitcom.
And, if it were 1970,
then the homophobia (Rapaport’s afraid that one of his sons is gay) and
the racism (Sis is dating a black student, oh no!) might make sense. The
structure (scenes punctuated by talking at the camera) feels like an
attempt to juice up the lackluster script with funny asides that go to
mask the lameness later.
The War at Home feels
like a remix of much better sitcoms (maybe some Malcolm in the Middle
with a bit of All in the Family with some Roseanne and a bit of Titus)
and a straight up ripoff of already mediocre shows (most recently
Grounded For Life). The show brings nothing new or funny or even worth
saving to an already ailing genre.