Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another

Underdeveloped

Try as it might, ABC’s Sons & Daughters is no Arrested Development

Print Email

Arrested Development, Fox’s much admired but ultimately doomed comedy, hasn’t yet been buried a month and ABC has trotted out Sons & Daughters, a sitcom about a diverse clan of dysfunctional suburbanites. It’s an obvious copy. There’s Cameron, a lukewarm everyman with the best of intentions and the worst of results; his awkward son with a previous wife; two flighty sisters, one of them trapped in a sexless marriage—and don’t let me forget her wise-beyond-her-years daughter.

But Sons & Daughters is Arrested Development for nice people. Where Mitchell Hurwitz might have a punchline, Sons & Daughters has a hug or a heart-to-heart, without a wink of irony. Even the zingers—”You’d have been great at Nuremberg,” Cameron tells his insensitive mother—don’t zing.

That line comes after Cameron’s adorably pint-sized daughter has repeated these words of wisdom from Great-Aunt Rae: “We’re going to Hell, because we’re Jews.” It’s funny, principally because a child is saying it, but its real purpose is exposition. As Cameron replies, “My kids are Jews, my wife is a Jew.” Why not just turn to the camera already?

What made Arrested Development a delight, even in its faltering final year, was that as broad as the characters could be, they always stayed true to themselves. It wasn’t until George Sr. had a religious awakening in prison that anyone saw fit to mention that the Bluths were Jewish. And when George ditched the yarmulke at season’s end, it remained unspoken, even when George Michael started going steady with a puritanical Christian. On Sons and Daughters, just in case you missed it the first time, Cameron’s wife, played by Debra Messing clone Gillian Vigman, says, “I’m a Jew saying that’s a Christmas card!”

The premiere even began with the dubious announcement that the show was partially improvised. But Arrested Development only felt improvised: it was actually carefully scripted. Of course, there’s nothing particularly fresh about Sons & Daughters. Fred Goss, who plays Cameron, feels like a ripoff of The Office‘s Steve Carell. And the mixed marriage at its center was already stale this fall, when The War at Home, a Fox sitcom so unfathomably unfunny it makes Sons & Daughters sound like Oscar Wilde, wiggled in a Jewish dad and his shiksa wife.

The first episode of Sons & Daughters ends with Cameron’s son drawing a Hitler mustache below his sleeping aunt’s nose in permanent marker. The show’s buildup makes me worry it’s going to stick around for a while. If so, are Hitler jokes the best it can do?

Print Email

COMMENTING CHARGES
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at letters@tabletmag.com. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

I just necessary some information and was looking on search engines for it. I visited each web site that came on first web site and didn’t got any relevant end result then I thought to look at out the second one and got your blog. this really is what I wanted!

2000

Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Underdeveloped

Try as it might, ABC’s Sons & Daughters is no Arrested Development

More on Tablet:

We Are the Jews of Isla Mujeres

By Louis Nayman — A tiny island off Cancún in the Mexican Yucatán is the modern Jewish world in microcosm