Better With You TV Review

Better With You (just so as not to confuse, you may have heard it referred to as Better Together at one point) is a sitcom that follows three couples, all of the same family. We are, in some sense, mostly focused on sisters Maddie and Mia, and their respective better halfs, but the parental units are on board as well, and the comedic spin comes by way of our differing world views. So far, we are not quite re-inventing the wheel.

Maddie (Jennifer Finnigan) is a lawyer, who is not married to nine-year partner Ben (Josh Cooke). The career-oriented, fairly uptight couple, are decidedly serious about everything, and Maddie is rather proud of the fact that she has taken her worldview from her parents. There is no question about this couple’s commitment to each other, but their stuffy demeanor opens the door for much mockery, and their over-analysis of life’s every detail doesn’t set them up as the “fun” couple in any group. Their dedication to their “valid life choice,” has led to a drinking game, and they’re just that sort of couple.

Mia (JoAnna Garcia), much to the contrary, is much more carefree and spontaneous. We enter the show with her boyfriend of a few weeks, Casey (Jake Lacy), deciding to propose. A musician in an avant-garde metal band (with a “performance element,” whatever that might mean), Casey is as laid back as they come, and thus the stage is set for our sisters to set off some serious world-clashing.

Enter parents Vicky (Debra Jo Rupp) and Joel (Kurt Fuller). Though Maddie thinks she has her finger squarely on her parents’ pulse, recent major financial losses have caused them to rethink their own perspective on life. Now shifting far more toward Mia’s side of the spectrum, the change in dynamic is just one more cause for confusion, and spur for the ensuing of hilarity.

The pilot offers up a decent amount of comedy, and introduces very likable characters, but things may be a bit too standard and comfortable to make people really sit up and take notice. I hope it gets the chance it needs to pull viewers in, and I hope the sandwich between the Middle and powerhouse Modern Family is enough to carry it at least a few weeks, because there is an undeniable charm at work. In fact, one of the show’s best points is its ability to deliver the right view of Maddie and Ben, while still making them the sort of people who sidestep becoming annoying.

Not just funny, which it is, but also fun, which is more important, more difficult, and frequently overlooked, Better With You is this season’s under the radar hopeful. The clash of generations perhaps smacks of being overly familiar, but these are new generations, and this is an effort with the charisma to hold its own in a tricky timeslot. It doesn’t have quite the laugh-out-loud factor of Modern Family, but it’s a smart and quick-witted style that works well.

From “Friends” producer Shana Goldberg-Meehan comes a comedy about three different couples at various stages in their romantic relationships. There’s a couple in a happy, long-term relationship and not married. Another couple is in a brand-new relationship and unexpectedly motivated to make a rush to the altar. Last but not least, there’s a longtime married couple who’ve been together for 35 years but may have a new take on life.

 

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Marc Eastman
Marc Eastman is the owner and operator of Are You Screening? and has been writing film reviews for over a decade, and several branches of the internet's film review world have seen his name. He is also a member of The Broadcast Film Critics Association and The Broadcast Television Journalists Association.

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