The biggest shame of the new FOX comedy “I Hate My Teenage Daughter” is the amount of talent the show wastes.
The series follows two divorced women and their struggles as they raise their troublesome teenage daughters (thus, the title). Katie Finneran, a Tony Award winner, plays Nikki Miller, a former high school loser who is borderline obsessed about her daughter Mackenzie (Aisha Dee) achieving popularity. Emmy winner Jaime Pressly plays Nikki’s best friend Annie Watson, a woman from a super conservative upbringing who can barely control her daughter Sophie (Kristi Lauren).
In the pilot, Sophie and Mackenzie are gearing up for their first high school dance, and their moms couldn’t be more excited. But things go afoul when, just days before the dance, the daughters decide to lock up a male, handicapped classmate in the women’s bathroom.
As expected, the mothers are called to principal’s office and are horrified at the news. The women decide to punish their girls by not letting them go to the dance. But given how eager the daughters are to go and how excited the mothers are to see their girls experience the popularity they never had, Nikki and Annie cave fairly quickly (aided by sizable lie from the girls). When the mothers find out the whole thing is a scam, they decide to awkwardly exact their revenge.
In theory, the show is a comedy about the challenges single mothers face with only moderate involvement from their ex-husbands. The problem is the show never delves that deep. Rather it quickly devolves into borderline slapstick comedy that was old when the Three Stooges were doing it.
Were it 1987, “I Hate My Teenage Daughter” might give a show like “My Two Dads” a run for its money. But we’re not. The family comedy has evolved over the last 25 years. They now offering smarter writing and better characters as we’ve seen in shows like “Modern Family” and “The Middle.”
It’s not the fault of Finneran or Pressly that this show is DOA. They know what to do with good material. Now if they could only get some to work with.
The series debuts on Wednesday (Nov. 30) at 9:30 p.m. ET.