Better with You [ABC, Wednesdays, 8:30/7:30C] serves up some big laughs centered around three couples: Casey [Jake Lacey] and Mia [JoAnna Garcia], newly engaged after knowing each other for seven weeks; Mia’s sister, Maddie [Jennifer Finnigan] and Ben [Josh Cooke], who have been living together for nine years, and Mia and Maddie’s parents, Joel [Kurt Fuller] and Vicky [Debra Jo Rupp], married for thirty-five years. The series uses the three relationships to explore how each influences the others – and whether for the better.
“How do I look?”* It’s a simple question asked by one member of each couple in their respective cabs as they travel to that all-important first parents/new boyfriend/fiance´ meeting. The responses pretty much sum up the state of each relationship and set the stage for the shake up that must inevitably follow.
Better with You is the brainchild of former Friends producer, Shana Goldberg-Meehan, who wrote the pilot. The ep is filled with sharply observed traits that are peculiar to each relationship and have developed over the time – however brief or long – they’ve been together. From the way the premiere plays, I expect to see all three couples respond to each other in ways that will be unexpected, and both humorous and true [check out the actual first meeting of all three couples and you’ll see what I mean.
Another pilot directed by James Burrows, this one is so well written that he has a wealth of character beats to set up the humor. By the end of the premiere, we feel like we really know these characters and have been laughing with them and their unique situations – not at them. That’s a good feeling.
Nestled between The Middle and Modern Family, Better with You is a complementary series that should get solid ratings. The best thing about that is that the series is one the same level, quality-wise. It doesn’t feel the least bit out of place in its timeslot.
Final Grade: A-
*You’ll have to watch the premiere for the answers. It’s worth it. Trust me.
Photo by Michael Yarish/Courtesy ABC