Every now and then, a show comes along that knows exactly what it wants to be, and then sticks the landing like a practiced Olympian. Currently in its second season on TV Land (Sunday nights at 10 p.m. ET/PT), “The Jim Gaffigan Show” is currently pulling in gold medals — so, why is no one talking about it?
It could be because it’s a family show, not edgy or dark or featuring dragons and nudity. But if you’re looking for something very funny, sweet and original — like comfort food in a food court filled with empty calories — it’s the best show on TV that you’re not watching.
Below, five reasons why you need to make room for “Gaffigan” in your weekly TV schedule.
It’s like a date night
After the kids are tucked into bed, if you and your spouse want to spend a few minutes together before your over-tired adult bodies crash, there’s no better show on TV right now to watch together.
Since Gaffigan’s wife Jeannie is a writer and director on the show (and actress Ashley Williams is her on-screen surrogate), each episode balances things from his and her point of view — and usually, they’re equally hilarious. Whether it’s laundry, kids, cloying family friends or the simple issue of whether they should rent a storage unit, “Gaffigan” is a show that any married couple will see a lot of themselves in.
In a recent episode, there was a fantasy sequence from Jeannie where Jim installed a pasta station in the living room manned by a chef named Armando. When she told him he was beginning to resemble Jabba the Hut, he replied: “I think that guy’s so cool.”
Jim’s take on the same event, however, had the kids eating all his food while his wife complained that they hadn’t had a child in nearly six weeks.
At the end of a long day of parenting, 30 minutes of laughter together is a godsend. That’s why “Gaffigan” is a show that all parents should have loaded up in the DVR for an instant, low-maintenance date night.
The Macauley Culkin thing
Aside from Jimmy Kimmel and Matt Damon, it might just be the funniest running gag on TV. In Season One, the “Home Alone” star began popping up in random places in every episode — DJ’ing a party, working as a barista — and Gaffigan would only vaguely acknowledge who he is.
In Season 2, the “Where’s Waldo”-like joke has gotten even funnier. One moment, Culkin is delivering a box of diapers to the Gaffigans; in the next, he’s cutting Jim in line at heaven’s pearly gates. Kudos to “Gaffigan” for creating a character who could throw a wild party where everyone is re-creating scenes from “Steel Magnolias” — and it’s completely believable.
Religion – with a light touch
Typically with pop culture, you either get something that avoids any mention of religion like it’s the third rail — or a History Channel miniseries on The Bible.
Gaffigan has made no secret of his Christianity, but he presents it from the standpoint of “my wife is practicing, I’m failing.” Many plotlines involve their priest, Jim had a hilarious daydream recently that had him talking with Jesus … and you know what the best part is? It doesn’t feel at all heavy-handed or like any sort of recruitment attempt.
Grown-ups know that there are people of all faiths out there, and even if you aren’t of the same faith, you can share in the laugh.
The characters on the show live in New York, so — shocking! — the show actually films in New York. Keep in mind, we’re not just talking about interiors and soundstages. A recent scene took place at the legendary McSorley’s Ale House; one of the show’s recurring locations is Katz’s Delicatessen (where Jim orders the pastrami, just like in real life). The show also has a shocking number of exterior walk-and-talk type scenes that give it an airy feeling for a sitcom — and a realness many other shows lack.
It’s so obvious, it should go without saying. But if you’re going to make a sitcom, the emphasis really needs to be on the “com.” Gaffigan knows his humor well, and is currently harnessing it like a pitcher in his prime — albeit, an overweight pitcher with a pastrami sandwich in one hand.
When his wife catches him eating the baby’s teething cookies, he responds: “Um, did the baby buy them?” and takes a big bite.
In another Season 2 episode, a lawyer accuses him of an Ariana Grande-inspired crime: “Did you lick a donut and put it back?”
“No!” protests Gaffigan. “I would never put it back!”
But arguably the funniest episode of Season 2 — and perhaps the smartest — was when Gaffigan went to “Social Outrage Jail,” a place for artists who make people angry. In orange jumpsuits, Gaffigan roomed with Carrot Top (“I’ve been here since the mid-90’s”), hung out in the weight room with Nickelback and Artie Lange, and contemplated the recent release of Anne Hathaway (“She’ll be back. They all come back.”). Funny stuff, from a funny show that you should give a chance.