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One Season Wonder: Guys With Kids

In a tree, there are good apples and bad apples. The same idea goes for television shows. Sadly, this one makes the cut. Guys With Kids is a project by comedian and host Jimmy Fallon. Considering his prominence in the genre, it would have been safe to assume that the show was going to be a hit, especially with him on the credit. However, 17 episodes in, the show was plugged out, leaving the fate of some characters in a cliffhanger. While I did follow the show because of its easy-going nature, it lacked substance and it felt like the show was in limbo. You have characters pulling jokes in and out, and despite the somewhat built chemistry among the characters, it felt rather forced and limited. Their characters barely had content, and their story lines were repetitive. I don't even think the show found its demographic. Similar man/family themed sitcoms have come out with lesser known backers and yet have lasted longer than a season. The formula behind the show might be there, but along the way, it either never found its story footing, or the show wasn't bringing anything interesting to keep viewers remotely interested.

The sitcom surrounds the story of three men with children: one divorcee, one stay at home dad and one working father. Their wives were the exact opposite of them: perfectionist, workaholic and stay at home mom. The only two people I knew from the cast are Jesse Bradford, Jamie-Lynn Sigler and Anthony Anderson, but I never know the first two had comic experience. While it does have an easy-going tone of things, the acting felt over exaggerated to the point that the character doesn't become charming, but rather irksome. They were given a limited personality to work with, and it's not just the subtle kind or the quirky kind of personality, but something that was always appearing and never changing. I'm sure the actors are all likable in their other projects, but this was one that I wouldn't go on board with.

The title itself is misleading: is it about how these three men handle their children, how their lives are supposed to revolve or their relationships with each other? Well, it certainly not about the kids, but because of the children factor, the show can't fully develop a story because the children always had to be there. So they can't do raunchy types, be wild and crazy, have problems and such, because their lives are supposed to be revolving around being men with kids. Sometimes the episode does contain something with their children, but it's mostly sub-plot type. 

I don't think the show found its demographic target either. Are they targeting fathers, who are undergoing the same experiences? Or people who are fans of Jimmy Fallon and would like to see his project? People who are at home on that particular night and just want to watch something else besides what the other networks are offering? I'm sure if a Venn Diagram of the ideal target of this show will be made, I won't see an intersecting point...or maybe there would be, but scattered tiny ones. 

As I've mentioned, the plot is very limited and repetitive, and not in a good way. As much as there are some funny parts of the sitcom, it felt a bit forced and unnatural. Like the dialogue would be something that wouldn't happen in real life. I mean, for example, Gary and Marny conspiring with their children with bribery? Or that the kids have limited lines and aren't given much content to work with? Or the fact that because they started with toddlers, it's pretty hard to incorporate a long running show (that is the plan) with small children. 

I think the show would have worked, or at least made it past one season if there was better writing, a direction to be taken and concrete focus. For instance, I think if Jimmy Fallon was one of the fathers, it would work, considering he already has a background in acting, and is a comedian, so it wouldn't be hard for him. Another would be if he not only created the show, but wrote them as well. Instead of focusing on the marital life, focus on the joys and woes of fatherhood and parenthood in general, instead of scheming and doing other things. Maybe those things could be side plots. Or just have one dad have a toddler and the other dads could be more experience and help new dad along the pathways of being a father, inadvertently screwing up themselves. Have a clear demographic target.

To wrap things up, Guys With Kids wanted to deliver some kind of message about their relationship with their children and their partners. I think it was supposed to be an sympathetic one, that you can relate with the characters, but they do it in a comic way. However, the message never got across the screen, due to one thing or another.