Bet­ter With You”

“ A com­edy about one fam­ily, three vary­ing re­la­tion­ships.

Los Angeles Times - - Calendar - ROBERT LLOYD

Wed­nes­day has be­come fam­ily com­edy night on ABC — which is not to say a night of come­dies for the fam­ily, un­less you’re pre­pared to tell your chil­dren why there are no big kit­ties in “Cougar Town.” “Mod­ern Fam­ily” is the pole on which this tent de­pends, and there is also “The Mid­dle” and now “Bet­ter With You,” a multi-cam­era sit­com made by peo­ple fa­mil­iar — per­haps over­fa­mil­iar — with the form.

Cre­ator Shana Gold­bergMee­han worked on “Mad About You” and “Friends,” and the pi­lot was di­rected by James Bur­rows, of “Taxi” and “Cheers” and so on, who also di­rected the pi­lots for this year’s “$#*! My Dad Says” and “Mike & Molly.” It’s not bad at all, but it’s so com­pletely a thing of its kind as to make no ex­tra­or­di­nary claims on your at­ten­tion.

Like “Mod­ern Fam­ily,” it con­cerns three in­ter­linked cou­ples; par­ents Vicky and Joel (De­bra Jo Rupp and Kurt Fuller), daugh­ters Mad­die and Mia (Jen­nifer Finnigan and Joanna Gar­cia) and their re­spec­tive beaus, Ben and Casey (Josh Cooke and Jake Lacy).

Un­mar­ried older sis­ter Mad­die has lived with Ben for nine years: “It’s a valid life­style choice,” she protests, too much.

Mia has known Casey — who plays in “an avant-garde metal band with a per­for­mance art com­po­nent,” al­though noth­ing about his char­ac­ter sug­gests that this is so — just over seven weeks. But they’ll be en­gaged be­fore the pi­lot is half over.

The show be­gins with each cou­ple in a taxi. Mia and Casey want to travel via some tun­nel be­cause “it’s dark and we can fool around.” Mad­die and Ben fin­ish each other’s sen­tences. And Vicky and Joel don’t talk, yet an­other long re­la­tion­ship made spite­ful for the sake of a joke. Or many jokes, rather.

The cast is able, and the idea to con­trast re­la­tion­ships mov­ing at dif­fer­ent speeds is a good one, as is that of Mad­die re­ex­am­in­ing her life in light of Mia’s. (Even though she’s only four years older, Mad­die feels a gap: “None of the fa­mous peo­ple her age wear un­der­wear.”) It’s a clean start; let’s see which way it runs.

robert.lloyd@latimes.com

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