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New comedy ‘FAM’ a bit too generic to be too funny

January 3, 2019
Odessa Adlon and Nina Dobrev star in "FAM," a comedy about a woman whose vision of a perfect life with her adoring fiance and his wonderful family is radically altered when her 16-year-old, out-of-control half-sister comes to live with her. The show premieres at 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, on CBS.

As of this writing, none of the new shows that premiered on the broadcast networks have been officially canceled. But there are a few shows that didn’t receive an additional episode order and will come to an end after their initial 13-episode run. And that means new shows are coming to replace them.

CBS kicks off its mid-season schedule with the new comedy “FAM,” which replaces “Murphy Brown.” And it proudly follows in the CBS tradition of airing at least one generic, occasionally funny sitcom per year that makes you think there had to be something better to put on TV.

In “FAM,” Nina Dobrev (“The Vampire Diaries”) stars as Clem, who is living her best life after she becomes engaged to Nick (Tone Bell).

Nick’s parents (Sheryl Lee Ralph and Brian Stokes Mitchell) adore Clem and do their best to give her a normal family since both of Clem’s parents have passed away and her half sister no longer speaks to her.

But Clem’s perfect family is completely shook up when her 16-year-old half sister, Shannon (Odessa Adlon), shows up unexpectedly and Clem is forced to admit that her dad (Gary Cole) is actually still alive and she is just too embarrassed to claim him because he was such a terrible father to her.

It doesn’t take long for Clem to realize that her dad’s bad parenting has continued and Shannon is just as out of control as Clem was when she was a teenager. But since Clem was able to put her life together, she decides that she wants to help Shannon do the same and invites Shannon to move in with her and Nick.

There are some laugh-out-loud moments in the pilot, but they rely on some of the biggest sitcom cliches in the book.

And the jokes are just not funny enough to help the show rise above its generic premise. Plus, the show completely wastes Cole’s considerable comedic talents by saddling him with such an incredibly unlikable character.

But let’s be honest. My biggest problem with “FAM” is that I know CBS did have better shows to put on the air, namely “9JKL” and “Superior Donuts.” It’s bad enough these excellent shows were canceled, but the fact that someone actually thought “FAM” was better than either of them is really hard to swallow.

“FAM” premieres at 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10 on CBS. And in case you’re wondering, “Man With a Plan,” the only CBS Monday night sitcom to survive cancellation, will return at 8:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4.

Angela Henderson-Bentley writes about television for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact her at ahenderson-bentley@hotmail.com.

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