Pathos is usually a hard thing to get right. Good drama and pathos often go hand in hand, but if a show goes too far in one direction, it risks dropping into the pitfall of standard-grade schmaltz.

“Find My Family”

Mondays at 9:30 p.m.
ABC

“Find My Family,” the latest reality show from ABC, makes no bones about where it falls on this spectrum. The show revolves around hosts Tim Green and Lisa Joyner reuniting adopted children with their birth parents, recounting the backstory of how and why the parents originally gave up their kids.

Coming from the production team behind the “Extreme Makeover” series, the levels of unadulterated schmaltz at work here make Thomas Kinkade look like Salvador Dali. The show stages the reunions under a literal tree — appropriately and cheesily dubbed the “Family Tree” — and it’s all scored by an absurd overly dramatic score, complete with swelling strings and pianos.

The show makes frequent use of staged moments, which wouldn’t be a problem if they weren’t so ineptly executed in the pilot. For example, when Joyner passed a letter to Jennie Jones (the child given up for adoption), the show cut to her biological parents writing the letter. It’s not necessarily a horrible idea, but it was done in such a brazenly emotionally manipulative fashion — the parents narrated themselves reading the letter, complete with camera zoom on the letter itself — that it can’t help but feel awkward.

Hosts Joyner and Green also barely pass the ABC show host requirement of being able to form complete sentences. And on two separate and particularly cringe-worthy occasions, host Joyner told Jones that she knew “… exactly how you’re feeling,” which, given the circumstances of Jones and Joyner being surrounded by a camera crew documenting Jones’s personal trauma to be broadcast on ABC, can’t help but come off a bit tone deaf.

In spite of all this, “Find My Family” is surprisingly less of a train wreck than its premise might have suggested. The show makes a judicious effort to tell the stories in each episode, with Green’s narration documenting the show’s search for the adopted child and the pressure as each side of the family prepares to reunite.

Talking head segments and old photos also illustrate what drew the original family to put up their child for adoption. The show’s insistence on weighing all of this down with its clichéd narrative is somewhat distracting, but the inherent drama of its premise keeps it compelling.

For the most part, the show isn’t leery of backing away from the less photogenic aspects of each family’s story. Jennie was born out of wedlock, and the premiere episode spent ample time going over how that affected her original family. It’s a shame though, that similar attention wasn’t paid to the adopted child’s side of the story. The show mentioned Jennie’s adopted mother is a single mom, but relative to the focus on her original parents, that’s paid lip service.

For what it is, “Find My Family” manages to achieve most of its admittedly low-hanging goals. It’s unabashed schlock, packed from start to finish with lots of tearful embraces, group hugs and other stuff that’s all but scientifically proven to pull at your heartstrings. But to the show’s credit, it does this well enough to keep things heart-warming, if not much else.

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