CBS sitcom Man with a Plan takes its cue from the “mancession” comedies that populated network lineups during the height of the economic recession, focusing on Adam’s (Matt Le Blanc) new role as co-parent after his wife, Andi (Liza Snyder), returns to work full time. Attempting to revive the multi-camera family sitcom for 2016, creators Jackie and Jeff Filgo seek but fail to mine comedy gold from the edgy tone of cable dramedies and the earnestness of many network dramas. There’s nothing easy about Man with a Plan, which leans too heavily on familiar sitcom beats and character types.
Where ABC’s family comedies—Black-ish, Fresh Off the Boat, Speechless, Modern Family—offer an increasingly diverse and complex portrait of American family life, Man with a Plan‘s bumbling, self-centered father figure seems palpably regressive. Adam grumbles and groans about his newfound parenting responsibilities, fitting in a few jabs about his wife’s new position while explaining he’s “Daddy Fun Times,” not an “all-the-time guy.”
Recent social, economic, and cultural shifts have made renegotiating the labor of marriage and parenting a relevant and compelling topic for TV again, and the Filgos smartly foreground anxieties about masculinity. The only other dad volunteering at school admires Adam’s “alpha-male energy,” admitting it’s “so great to connect on a masculine level again.” But instead of deflating myths of modern masculinity, Man with a Plan doubles down on them.
Andi gives Adam a pass for “riding shotgun” all these years when he magnanimously agrees to co-parenting duties, but young, more modern-minded audiences might find it difficult to give him credit for a job he should already be doing. The series makes Adam’s cluelessness the butt of the joke and Andi’s frustration when her husband balks at parenting veer uncomfortably toward nagging-wife territory. Thus, Man with a Plan is unable to render its primary characters’ internal frustrations or anxieties as anything other than an engine for tired sitcom plots.
Adam’s immaturity ends up casting the women in the series as exasperated or manipulative scolds. When his daughter, Emme (Hala Finley), admits she’s worried about her first day of school, he suggests, “A real punch in the nose can be a problem solver.” This moment is played for laughs—complete with a laugh track. In a darker, more confident comedy, the line would land its punch. Man with a Plan, however, reuses an old plan for a fundamentally different cultural and comedic terrain.
Man with a Plan Season 1 Srt Sub Download
You can imagine the theses: “The Role of the Couch in the 20th Century Situation Comedy” or “How Many Doors? Entrance and Exit in the Multi-Camera Sitcom.” Actually, those papers are probably being written somewhere now.
CBS is the great protector, if not yet the sole practitioner, of the multi-camera sitcom, a highly theatrical form that has been with us since the “I Love Lucy” days. After recently putting a toe into the waters of the more naturalistic, more “modern” single-camera comedy — though those have been around at least since “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” — with flops like “We Are Men,” “The Crazy Ones” and “Angel From Hell,” the network has gone back to what it knows.
This week brings two new old-school sitcoms to CBS, “Man With a Plan” starring Matt LeBlanc on Monday and “The Great Indoors” with Joel McHale on Thursday. (A third, Kevin James’ “Kevin Can Wait,” has already premiered and received a full-season order, which will tell you something about the limited power of negative reviews.)
Neither is groundbreaking or particularly exciting; both are quite likable and solidly constructed. (James Burrows, the “Pilot King,” directed the “Man” pilot; Andy Ackerman, whose own directing career runs back to Burrows’ “Cheers,” helmed “Indoors.) The jokes are good more often than not and rarely embarrassing; the casts seem to enjoy one another’s company, creating plausible communities within clearly artificial frameworks.
Created by “That ’70s Show” vets Jackie Filgo and Jeff Filgo, “Man With a Plan” features LeBlanc in what is still, for some reason, considered the reliably hilarious position of a man taking care of children. His Adam is a fairly typical middle-class, regular-guy TV dad, less capable than he imagines himself to be, with a smart wife, Andi (Liza Snyder), about to return to work after many years and three children spaced in age but all young enough to need some minding.
It’s a job he soon decides is no fun. “All I know is I gave you three perfect babies,” Adam tells Andi, “and as far as I can tell you ruined them.” Just to be clear, he is the (slightly) dumb, less evolved partner, like his “Friends” character Joey grown up, married, with children.
There are some nice left turns in the dialogue. “I’m worried about kindergarten,” Adam’s youngest daughter says when he drops her off at school. “Oh, honey,” he sweetly replies, “you should be worried. Kids are mean.” Less profitably, he tells his pubescent son to “stop touching yourself; you had both hands in your pants moving around down there like you’re making origami.” There is something groundbreaking in that, I suppose, as there is in digging a hole.
It is arbitrarily set in Pittsburgh.