Modern Dads: Wednesdays at 10:30 Eastern on A&E
It’s pretty amazing how the reality genre has adopted the hacky comedy premise and made it it’s own. We’ve seen this trend grow in the last few years, with shows such as Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Duck Dynasty. Even a show like last week’s Owner’s Manual seems to take pages from this new playbook of finding what would seem like a viable sitcom premise from 1980 and finding a way to squeeze it into an unscripted format. It is with this trend in mind that A&E, a network once known for it’s highbrow programming, unleashes its’ newest show, Modern Dads.
Modern Dads follows four stay-at-home dads as they try to balance parenting with their careers and their personal lives. The series introduces us to four leads: new father Nathan, whom tends to exhibit the protectiveness that comes with it, Rick, a more laid back father with the nickname, “the MacGyver of dads”, Sean, a step-dad raising his girlfriends kids, and Stone, a single father.
So, how does Modern Dads turn out? Well I’m not sure whether it’s a case of life truly imitating art or whether the show relies on the same tired tropes we’ve seen (mostly on ABC) over the years. Our first episode alone trots out the tried and (not particularly) true story lines of: The guys want to throw a party and Stone considers a vasectomy.
Unfortunately, Modern Dads also happens to mine all of its’ humor from those same unfunny jokes. Since the vast majority of talking heads are used for laughs (whereas normally they’re used for insight, drama, and to fill in the gaps that the producers missed), what you often see is a fairly laugh-neutral scene which is then cut away to some of the weakest punchlines on cable TV (90 percent of those, by the way, end up being Newlywed Game tame sex jokes).
Worst of all is that this laziness seems to bleed over into the production, we see the same four splashes every time a scene transitions (which wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t feel like it was happening 15 times in a 22 minute show), with the producers not hesitating to remind you that these men are nothing more than their three word tags. Furthermore, the scenes seem fairly repetitive in nature, so it feels like they are trying to stretch four minutes of material into 22 minutes. Needless to say, it’s debatable that such a vacuous, and empty show should actually make it to the air.
The Final Verdict: If I were to describe Modern Dads in one word, it’s lazy. It’s padded to oblivion, with obviously scripted and unfunny jokes put through cliché driven non-plot lines. Skip this one: if you really want to watch a show about bumbling dads, you’re better off throwing on some reruns of Home Improvement; at the minimum the jokes will feel fresher.
In other news; please feel free to join us here at Manhattan Digest for live coverage of the MTV Video Awards this Sunday Night!