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Photograph: Craig Sjodin The Trophy Wife airs Tuesdays on ABC

Trophy Wife: TV review

ABC's new comedy showcases a new kind of modern family.

By Jessica Johnson

When Cougar Town premiered on ABC in 2009, it got a lot of attention for a title that has come to be a joke, now that it has little to to do with the content of the show. Trophy Wife seems like it might be repeating this same mistake. Sure, it's about a young woman who marries an older man who appears to make a decent living, but the comedy focuses far more on its heroine's relationships with her new step children and their mothers than on serving as her husband's arm candy.

Before she accidentally broke Peter's (Bradley Whitford) nose while falling off the stage at a karaoke bar, Kate (Malin Akerman) was a party girl looking for love. Now she's a married lady with a family that gives the Modern Family clan a run for their money. Peter has been married twice before and has three children. His first wife Diane (Marcia Gay Harden) is a bit of a stick in the mud and doesn't take too kindly to her ex-husband's hot and young new wife, concerned that sets a poor example for her twins, Hillary (Gianna Le Pera) and Warren (Ryan Lee). Second wife Jackie (Michaela Watkins) is more of a free sprit with serious boundary issues and a tendency to smother and coddle her adopted son Bert (Albert Tsai). Kate is still desperately trying to prove her worth as a mother and wife, both to Peter's ex-wives and to their children but she's starting from scratch and feels totally in over her head.

Trophy Wife is loosely based on Chicago funny lady Sarah Haskins's experiences after marrying an older man. Haskins is absolutely hilarious (do yourself a favor and watch some of her "Target Women" segments on YouTube) and her comedy chops show in this pilot. It certainly helps that the ensemble is packed with incredibly talented actors, which includes the fabulous Natalie Morales as Kate's best friend. Akerman is very charming and really helps you root for Kate's success. The relationship between her character and Whitford's could have used a bit more screen-time, though, as he spends much of the episode on a goofy quest with Jackie to replace their son's dead hamster.

There's a tremendous energy to Trophy Wife, making it a delightful comedy that's far more wholesome than its title implies.


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