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TV Series Review

CBS has CSI. ABC has unconventional comedies about family life such as The MiddleModern Family and No Ordinary Family. CBS routinely adds new procedurals to bulk up its crime cred. ABC adds new sitcoms to try to wring a few more wry chuckles out of fans.

Scripted by Friends writer Shana Goldberg-Meehan, Better With You packs quite a lot of that old sitcom's rapid pace, character interplay and, well, a few of its jokes, too. It's all centered around a trio of couples from the same family, all of whom are at three completely different stages of life when it comes to that lovin' feeling.

Oldest sis Maddie and her nine-year live-in beau, Ben, are the couple at the middle of this love teeter-totter. They're not married ("a valid life choice," they assure anyone who asks) and come off as the most buttoned-up and self-conscious of the group.

Twentysomething sibling Mia has only been with her guy Casey (a goofy rocker sort who plays in "an avant-garde metal band with a performance art component") for a short while. And as this series gets under way, this free-spirited pair is everything Maddie and Ben aren't—feverishly in love, impulsive, pregnant and determined to get hitched.

Way over on the been-there-done-that side of the relational equation are the girls' parents, Vicky and Joel, who've been married for 35 years and are now as blandly crusty in their affections as a dried-up casserole that's been left in the back of the fridge for too long.

Standard situation comedy ensues.

The generational divide often reveals itself through brief, tag team scenes that intentionally echo one another. For instance, while Mia and Casey will sweep a kitchen countertop's contents to the floor to make room for spur-of-the-moment lovemaking, Maddie and Ben will have the same impulse but end up cleaning the kitchen. Vicky and Joel will funnel their passion into sharing a piece of chocolate cake, blurting out double entendres as they eat.

That little example illustrates this comedy's strengths and weaknesses. The contrasting views on love and relationship can be funny and ring true. We can even learn a thing or two from them. But the approach to some of the sexual issues on hand and even to marital commitment itself can veer far afield from positive family-hour viewing. It's crude enough, actually, to prompt television critic Robert Lloyd of the Los Angeles Times to say, "Wednesday has become family comedy night on ABC—which is not to say a night of comedies for the family."

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Crude or Profane Language

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Episode Reviews

BetterWithYou: 11172010



Readability Age Range





Joanna Garcia as Mia; Jennifer Finnigan as Maddie; Josh Cooke as Ben; Jake Lacy as Casey; Kurt Fuller as Joel; Debra Jo Rupp as Vicky






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Bob Hoose

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