tek's rating:

American Housewife, on ABC
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Caution: spoilers.

Season one
The original title for the show was going to be "The Second Fattest Housewife in Westport," but it was changed prior to the series premiere. The pilot still focuses on the fact that the main character, Katie Otto (Katy Mixon), is upset to learn that her neighbor, "Fat Pam," is moving away, because that will mean Katie goes from third-fattest to second-fattest housewife in Westport, Connecticut. So she spends much of the episode trying to prevent that, or to ensure that someone fatter than her will buy the house. (And she fails.) However, the series does focus more on other things, and Katie and her entire family are an interesting mix of characters. There's her husband, a history professor named Greg (Diedrich Bader), who seems more grounded than Katie, but who also clearly loves her and is always ready to help with whatever ridiculousness she gets into (while also keeping her from going too far off the deep end), as well as helping to raise their three very different children. There's the oldest, 14-year-old Taylor (played in the pilot by Johnny Sequoyah, whose work I really enjoyed in Believe, so I was happy to see her here... but then she was replaced after the pilot by an actress I was unfamiliar with, Meg Donnelly, who I quickly came to like in the role). Katie is deeply concerned that Taylor, who has recently gone from geeky to hot, is becoming more like the thin, superficial women of Westport that she so despises. (Katie's arch-nemesis, incidentally, is a woman named Chloe Brown Mueller.) Then there's 12-year-old Oliver, who Katie worries is too materialistic and doesn't seem to have an altruistic bone in his body. (And he seems to speak in some manner of Mid-Atlantic accent.) And the youngest, 7-year-old Anna-Kat, has OCD and is germ-phobic. (And she's probably my favorite character on the show.) It's mainly because of the availability of special needs services available at the affluent town's school that the Ottos moved to Westport. But while it might be good for Anna-Kat, the move has exacerbated Katie's worries about her other two kids. Luckily, Katie has two good friends, Doris and Angela, who share her disdain for the too-perfect women of Westport (even though they, unlike Katie, are among the town's wealthy citizens). But one of those women, Viv, befriends Katie, who isn't particularly happy to have her as a friend. And I think Viv eventually divorces her husband. And, um... at some point, Taylor starts dating a guy named Eyo. And Oliver starts taking ballet class, as an extracurricular activity to help him eventually get into Harvard. And Greg gets a book deal. Anyway, so far I find the show amusing, and... well, I guess that's all I can tell you.

Season two
First, I want to mention that Oliver has a rich friend named Cooper Bradford, who was seen a few times last season, but it wasn't until this season that I took notice of him as a recurring character. Katie doesn't like him, because he's just so Westport. But she does eventually develop some sympathy for him, because his parents are always traveling. So she tries to act a bit like a parent to him, and give him some boundaries, and teach him to act less entitled. All of which Cooper actually appreciates, even if he never seems to learn much. Also this season, Katie takes on the responsibility of planning the school's annual Spring Gala. (It's apparently so stressful that the last person to hold that responsibility had a nervous breakdown.) So this will be a recurring theme throughout the season. Meanwhile, Oliver realizes he actually likes ballet as more than a means to an end. Also, Greg gets a grill with which he intends to barbecue a pig, but instead ends up letting Anna-Kat keep the pig as a pet, which she names Hans Gruber (presumably named after the villain from "Die Hard," though I don't recall if the show ever specifically said so). Katie wasn't happy about having a pig around the house, but she came to accept it. Also, Oliver befriends a new neighbor named Spencer Blitz (George Hamilton), a billionaire who just finished a 20-year prison sentence for insider trading, or whatever. And Taylor eventually breaks up with Eyo. And Doris has a baby (I think it's her fourth kid, but we never see any of them). Taylor starts dating a guy named Trip Windsor. And Oliver starts dating a girl named Gina Tuscadero, from his ballet class. She's not from Westport, and has disdain for the town's snobbery, similar to Katie, which leads to Oliver trying to change, at least a little. And Greg's book, "John Stuart Mill and the Consequences of a Thoroughgoing Empiricist Outlook," finally comes out. And Viv gets pregnant. Anna-Kat starts acting like her friend Franklin is her boyfriend, though he's generally clueless about... pretty much everything. Eventually, Hans Gruber becomes too troublesome to keep at home, so he's taken to live on a farm, where the Ottos will be able to visit him occasionally. Around that time, Spencer dies, which is difficult for Oliver to come to terms with. Also, Greg gets tenure at his job. There's an interesting episode called "Sliding Sweaters," which is similar to the movie Sliding Doors. And Greg gets an assistant named Grant, who idolizes him. And... much earlier in the season, Katie had promised she could get Nathan Fillion to appear at the Spring Gala, despite having no idea how she could possibly pull that off. In the penultimate episode of the season, she actually meets him and convinces him to do it. And the season finale is about Katie and her friends and family putting together the Gala (with a Bollywood theme), despite someone's attempts to sabotage the event. (Fillion appears in this episode, though with less screen time than in the previous episode.) And the Gala turns out to be a great success.

Season three
Katie gets a job as a party planner. Katie's mother, Kathryn (Wendie Malick), who we'd seen a couple of times in the first two seasons, moves in with the Ottos. Taylor gets a role in a school play, and spends a lot of time rehearsing with a guy named Pierce, who seems to be trying to break up her and Trip. Viv has her baby on Halloween. Gina goes away to a ballet school, which ends her relationship with Oliver. Taylor breaks up with Trip, believing his jealousy of Pierce is unfounded. Katie's father, Marty (Patrick Duffy) visits the Ottos for Christmas, and gets back together with Kathryn, who decides to move out of the Ottos' and in with Marty. Taylor eventually learns the truth about Pierce, and gets back together with Trip. Oliver starts dating a girl named Brie Witherspoon. And of course lots of other stuff happens. The season finale is a musical episode called A Mom's Parade.

Season four
I want to mention that while season 1 was on Tuesdays and seasons 2-3 were on Wednesdays, this season the show moved to Fridays (which is only significant because that means it joined the TGIF lineup). But in the middle of the season, it moved back to Wednesdays. Anyway... this season Greg and Katie make a list of "life skills" Taylor will have to learn. An injury puts a stop to Oliver's dancing. As a replacement extracurricular activity, he begins working at a teen helpline. Doris is left by her husband. Katie quits her job and starts her own business selling lasagna. Taylor auditions to get into Carnegie-Mellon. Brie breaks up with Oliver. Greg learns he has a British half-brother (who's also named Greg). And Greg writes a biography of an internet star named Lonnie Spears (who constantly annoys Greg with his pranks). And... any number of other things happen.

Season five
This season Anna-Kat is being played by a new actress. Angela is only seen in one episode, and we don't see much of Doris, either. In the season premiere, Taylor and Trip graduate high school, and by the second episode, Taylor has started college (several months passed between episodes). She goes to the one where Greg teaches, though I guess she still plans to go to Carnegie-Mellon after her first year. Cooper's parents move to Florida and sell their Westport estate, so Katie and Greg invite him to live with them until he graduates, so he and Oliver won't have to lose their friendship. Greg finishes writing Lonnie's biography. Katie sold her lasagna business, so now she's looking for something else to do with her time. She eventually starts doing a mommy vlog. Greg decides to run for city council, and Lonnie becomes his campaign manager. Oliver starts designing an app with an antisocial classmate named Trevor, as an extracurricular to help him get into Harvard. Taylor develops feelings for a teaching assistant named Andre, which leads to her wondering if she and Trip are really meant to be together. An old friend of Katie's named Tami Gaines (Holly Robinson Peete) moves to Westport, and they renew their friendship. They also become friends with a guy named J.D. (Jake Choi, whom I knew from Single Parents). An obnoxious waiter named Walker Montgomery (Jim Rash) also joins their friend group, even though they don't really want him to. Cooper discovers a talent for cooking, and decides he wants to go to culinary school after graduation. And there are several major developments in the season finale that I don't want to spoil. (I would have revealed them in my season six review, but the show was cancelled.)

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