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TV Series Review

Parenthood is always an adventure.

No matter how many books you read or how much advice you glean, all bets are off once that little bundle of infant joy lands in your life. None of us are ever quite prepared to be first-time mothers or fathers.

Of course, there's a difference between "not quite prepared" and "Wowser! That's what a baby looks like?!" Ben—at least initially—falls into the latter category.

Ben, a twentysomething bartender still trying to figure out what to be when he grows up, has his bachelor lifestyle turned upside down when a baby named Emma lands on his doorstep. The baby's his, Ben discovers via note. But mother Angela seems to want nothing to do with either of them. After toying with the idea of putting Emma up for adoption, Ben decides to keep her—despite the fact that he believes Formula is a car racing term and Pampers is what he does to himself after a particularly hard day at work.

Thankfully, Ben has a bit of moral (or, at least, somewhat moral) support. Danny, his muscular brother, and Tucker, his diminutive best friend, share Ben's apartment—which now means they share feeding and diaper-changing duties too. Riley, one of Ben's childhood friends and an aspiring lawyer, provides a bit of maternal influence (even though she has just as much experience mothering as Ben has fathering). And if things get really tough, Ben can always call on his own mother, Bonnie, to save the day.

In all of that, Baby Daddy is as pat and predictable as sitcoms get these days. The series adheres to the ol' "guys don't know anything about babies" trope, even though many of us 21st-century fathers changed just as many diapers and spent just as many nights holding colicky babies as their moms did. And then there's the premise of three guys raising a baby—one that's more or less pilfered from, well, Three Men and a Baby, a movie made in 1987. (And that film was itself based on an earlier French movie, 3 Hommes et un Couffin.)

The content is similarly predictable. Semi-gross gags, a staple of any I'm-not-ready-to-raise-a-kid type of movie or TV show, range all the way from smelly diapers to spit-up to, well, smelly diapers again. Ben and Tucker have pretended to be a gay couple. Ben's apartment serves as a temporary home to coarse language, and it's pretty clear that none of Emma's clueless caretakers plan to let something like a baby get in the way of any potential one-night stands. Relationships come and go with the changing seasons, while Danny and Riley weave a rather tedious unrequited love story through the proceedings. (It's like Friends' Ross and Rachel if Ross had a baby.)

But as familiar as it is and as mildly foul as it can be at times, Baby Daddy is still relatively good-hearted by modern sitcom standards, with a sweet, well-meaning core. Ben—scared as he is of fatherhood—wants to be a good daddy to his little girl. He loves her, after all. And he's not the only one. As Tucker says near the end of the program's pilot episode, "We have a baby now. We kinda have to be adults."

If only they'd learn what being an adult really means.

These guys aren't perfect parents—not by anyone's standards. But as most moms and dads will tell you, love can go a long way toward smoothing over a parent's own child-rearing deficiencies. Will it be enough? Emma sure hopes so.

TV viewers are allowed to remain skeptical.

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Episode Reviews

Baby-Daddy: 8-28-2013
Baby-Daddy: 6-20-2012



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Jean-Luc Bilodeau as Ben; Tahj Mowry as Tucker; Derek Theler as Danny; Melissa Peterman as Bonnie; Chelsea Kane as Riley




ABC Family


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On Video

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Paul Asay

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