It is plain to see that there are not a lot of people rooting for network television’s return to glory. The discourse around network television has become as stale as they claim the shows to be: We all know it’s become safe and is no longer breaking new ground. It’s currently cool to hate network TV. I am not denying that there are things to hate, as evidenced by anything that Chuck Lorre releases and the perpetual green-lighting of more “The Goldbergs” rip-offs, rather, I am arguing that in the competition to see who can hate network TV the most, we overlook gems. “Single Parents” is one of those gems.
“Single Parents” is pretty self-explanatory. Four single parents struggle to balance adulthood and parenthood while clashing with their kids’ new classroom coordinator, Will (Taran Killam, “Saturday Night Live”), a mushy helicopter dad. Will is as overbearing as he is positive, announcing to the class on the first day all of the new (and pointless) initiatives he has imagined. The singles vow to get him out of his shell with the sole motivation of shirking off any extra responsibilities that may come their way. From there, hilarity ensues, and the show takes off.
The diverse cast of “Single Parents” is one of the primary reasons it works so well. Without feeling forced, it does great work to show that there is no one “type” of single parent and also highlights the bond their situation has created for them. It makes for great comedy to see the interactions between these people who, if not for their kids, would probably never have contact. In what other universe would ultra-feminist mom Poppy (Kimrie Lewis, “Scandal) and chauvinistic father Douglas (Brad Garrett, “Christopher Robin”) ever have contact, let alone be comfortable enough with each other that Poppy can barge in on Douglas’s steak dinner of “pasty, old white guys” (Poppy’s words, not mine)? While the writing feels authentic and the jokes land with consistency, a great debt is owed to the fantastic cast rounded out by Leighton Meester (“Gossip Girl”) and Jake Choi (“Lethal Weapon”) for elevating what could have been a forgettable one-episode wonder into something worth watching on a weekly basis.
The show is doing what other network shows should have been doing for years. Rather than giving us neutered versions of what we expect to see on premium cable, it takes the familiar tropes that we have come to associate with network television and gives them a fresh twist.
“Single Parents” does an exemplary job of blending together two of the most familiar formulas in network television history (the young singles show and the family show) and coming out with something timely and realistic for viewing audiences in 2018. “Single Parents” treats viewers to the best of both worlds: all of the wacky, fun dating plotlines of a “Happy Endings” or a “Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23” while still being able to provide the warmth of a family-centric show like “Modern Family” or “Black-ish.” Thus, watching feels like meeting someone new, yet having that strange sensation you’ve known them forever. So, please, even in the contemporary climate of hating anything and everything network, direct those energies towards something more deserving and give “Single Parents” a chance.