Hippo Manchester
September 15, 2005

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The War at Home

by Amy Diaz

Sundays on Fox, 8:30 p.m.

No stars

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.