Playing House is Worth Playing on Your DVR

Playing House (Photo: USA)
Playing House (Photo: USA)

USA’s second scripted comedy series Playing House stars Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham as besties reunited following an unfortunate baby shower.

Show

Playing House, which airs back-to-back episodes at 10pm Tuesdays on USA.

Premise

International businesswoman Emma (Jessica St. Clair) decides to quit her job and move in with her pregnant best friend Maggie (Lennon Parham), whose husband was caught cheating with an online paramour.

Pedigree

You may remember St. Clair and Parham’s previous show Best Friends Forever, which aired all too briefly on NBC in 2012. Playing House has been in development at USA since February of last year. Both women hail from the Upright Citizens Brigade.

Who is Playing House For?

This isn’t a family comedy, so it probably isn’t appropriate for little kids. Otherwise, a general audience.

What Works

St. Clair and Parham’s chemistry is palpable, as the two have collaborated for quite a while. There are scenes in the pilot, such as singing along to “Celebrate Me Home” on the drive home from the airport, which would be a complete throwaway were it not for the goofiness that exists in friendships to carry through the comedy.

The supporting cast is rather impressive. Keegan-Michael Key (Key and Peele) plays Mark, the town cop and Emma’s former high school boyfriend. Zach Woods (who played Gabe on The Office) continues his dominance of awkward/creepy/pasty/tryhard characters as Emma and Maggie’s friend Zach. Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm in the Middle) did not appear in the pilot, but I look forward to her portrayal of Emma’s mom.

What Doesn’t Work

Emma’s dealings in China led to some rather hacky, borderline racist jokes, including transposing L’s and R’s. Since Emma leaves this job, my hope is that this was an unfortunate occurrence confined solely to the pilot.

Verdict

Playing House isn’t groundbreaking comedy, but the pilot held my interest for the full 22 minutes. You can see the building blocks in place for storylines: Emma and Mark’s relationship, Zach’s weirdness and requited feelings for Emma, Maggie’s separation. Emma and Maggie’s chemistry carries this show, and I’m in for now. We’ll see what happens when the baby comes along…

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About Mike McComb 656 Articles
Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it "TV Camp." After a lengthy stint at TVLatest, Mike wanted to launch a site that brought in classic TV, diamonds in the rough, and the shows everybody watches. E-mail: mike@whatelseison.tv