Home sweet home: Take a trip through time with ‘The Kids Are Alright’
“They’re trying to hold on to the values in this house, and the outside world keeps coming in.” - Tim Doyle
The new prime-time television season is finally here and, as usual, it features plenty of returning hits, fresh takes on old favorites, ambitious dramas and a healthy dose of period pieces. On Tuesday, Oct. 16, take a trip through time and make yourself at home with the Cleary family as they witness the dawn of a new era in the premiere of “The Kids Are Alright” on ABC.
With the addition of the 1970sset “The Kids Are Alright” to the lineup, ABC has doubled down on single-camera, ensemblecast period comedies. “Kids” marks the network’s third past-set series (with a fourth, the ‘90s-set “Schooled,” on its way) after “The Goldbergs” (1980s) and “Fresh off the Boat” (1990s).
It’s hard to blame the alphabet network for wanting to take another trip down memory lane. As a society, we’re constantly looking to the past, be it for inspiration, for escapism or in order to better understand the present. Plus, the fashion, music and tech of days gone by are always sources of entertainment and interest. This fascination with the past has led Hollywood to be dominated by nostalgia, with both the big screen and the small churning out period piece after period piece.
ABC struck gold with “The Goldbergs” and “Fresh off the Boat,” and much like these comedies, “The Kids Are Alright” is based on the childhood of its creator. “Kids” follows the ups and downs of Mike (Michael Cudlitz, “The Walking Dead”) and Peggy Cleary (Mary McCormack, “In Plain Sight”) and their eight wild boys in 1970s suburban Los Angeles.
Creator/writer/executive producer Tim Doyle (“Last Man Standing”) grew up in a large, traditional Irish Catholic family. After regaling ABC executives with hilarious tales of his youth, Doyle was given the opportunity to present these stories to the masses. At New York’s annual PaleyFest, he talked at length about wanting to properly document the era and to “show audiences a believable depiction of family life during that period.”
Beyond Doyle’s writing and producing duties, he also narrates in voiceover as an older Timmy, the fifth of eight children and completely ignored. The younger version of Timmy is played by the wonderful up-andcomer Jack Gore (“Billions”).
Growing up in the 1970s has provided Doyle with wonderful stories, but the decade wasn’t all roses. It was a turbulent time in America, and it’s the perfect setting for a family comedy. As Bob Dylan famously said, “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” and after this decade, the Clearys — and the country — will never be the same.
Doyle discussed this earlier this year at the ATX Television Festival in Austin, Texas, saying, “They’re trying to hold on to the values in this house, and the outside world keeps coming in.”
Raising boys is no picnic. Raising eight boys in a working-class neighborhood is a monumental challenge. With Mike and Peggy often working long hours and doing everything in their power to provide for an immense family, the gaggle of rambunctious boys are often left to their own devices and spend their days with little supervision.
The series will continuously explore the relationship between siblings at home and focus on the dynamic between the brothers and between kids and parents. We’ll follow various groupings of the boys as they strike out on adventures together or have heated exchanges with their mother. Many of these exchanges and arguments take place during chaotic family dinners, which are described as the glue of the ensemble comedy.
With 10 people, three bedrooms and one bathroom, the Cleary household is not for the weak. Tune in to the premiere of the new sitcom, airing Tuesday Oct. 16, on ABC.
Mary McCormack stars in “The Kids Are Alright”