Season 1, Episode 1, “Pilot”

Image of the cast from ABC's Home Economics

The cast of ABC’s Home Economics
Photo: ABC

The first episode of the ABC sitcom Domestical economy is barely an extension of its two and a half minutes trailer, which focuses on the bond between the three Hayworth siblings despite each being from a different financial stratum. Co-created by Michael Colton and John Aboud, the show is clearly trying to build on the network’s well-established brand of enjoyable family comedies. The basic premise is quickly set up (in voiceover, no less): Tom is a struggling middle-class author, Sarah is broke after losing her job as a counselor for at-risk students, and Connor is a rich dirty financier who just bought Matt Damonthe extravagant house. Domestical economy focuses on how they overcome this wealth disparity and stay close. The sitcom doesn’t offer much depth or nuance beyond its philosophy of family over money, at least not at first, instead trying to shine a light on a well-chosen cast and its chemistry. .

Topher Grace, who is also an executive producer, returns to the small screen as Tom Hayworth, who is also the series’ narrator. Tom secretly uses his extended family adventures as the basis for a new book after the previous one – which was about a prison baseball team in 1906 and contained no women – which sold five copies. The cast, which also includes Caitlin McGee, Jimmy Tatro, Karla Souza and Sasheer Zamata, is solid. There’s a laid-back vibe to all of their interactions, but the writing and storytelling provide them with rudimentary characterization. Heartwarming humor attempts to fill the void left by modern familywhich ended in 2020 after 11 seasons, but still offers nothing new to the genre.

The episode kicks off as Connor returns from Seattle to San Francisco and invites his family to his newly purchased lavish mansion. Tom and Sarah both seek to apply for a loan from their younger, wealthier brother, gaining encouragement from their spouses to do so. After exploring the many rooms of his new home, they all argue when Connor reveals he’s taking his parents to the Turks and Caicos Islands for Thanksgiving instead of doing their usual big business. This solves all of their personal issues as Tom and Sarah reveal they need financial help, and Connor admits he’s going to divorce and has backed down so he can be with his loved ones again. The siblings reconcile and then revel in the fact that they’re all going through various troubles together, not just alone, and the whole family races down the road in Connor’s mini cars in a seamlessly tied ending.

Yes Domestical economy succeeds, it is thanks to the remarkable cast. McGee and Grace do a good job, but it’s Tatro who stands out, after his credible performance as a high schooler in 2017 american vandal with the markedly different role of a wealthy single father. The show aims for a more contemporary take on blended families as seen on ABC, from The Brady Group, Full house, and My wife and children to more recent comedies like Fresh off the boat, The middleand Modern family. This features a queer couple in Sarah (McGee) and Denise (Zamata), and apparently wants to see how income inequality leads to real hardship for them as well as Tom and his wife Marina (Souza). They even crowd into a weird moment when Tom, recording notes for his book, discusses this inequality just as he bumps into Connor’s housekeeper, Lupe (Lidia Porto), who overhears and gives him a questioning look. It’s an ABC sitcom, so the scene is glossed over and played for laughs as the episode ends in a 20-minute series.

In his pilot, Domestical economy focuses more on introducing interpersonal dynamics (like the siblings’ favorite song is “MMMBop”, or how Denise and Sarah lovingly refer to Lulu) rather than examining the seriousness of their money troubles. Although the episode passes on the central premise, it also primarily uses POC characters to support their white partners; they don’t get any other personality traits, which is especially difficult because Zamata and Souza are excellent performers. The main trio members are cast in defining molds: Tom is a rule follower, Sarah is a vegan feminist, and Connor is the carefree cool dude. These opposite types make for some fun swapping, but they could also limit character growth and performance as the show goes on. The first episode ends with everyone asking Tom what his next novel is about – he doesn’t tell them, but explains in voiceover that it’s basically about how close he feels to his family. We get a sense of that closeness, but while there’s strength in the chemistry and the specificity of some jokes, the idea is still a little too generic overall to generate much anticipation.

Spurious observations

  • The show tries to build a very specific image of Matt Damon in our heads by claiming that his house could include a Japanese bathtub, an interior courtyard and enough closets for Connor to turn one into a house for his daughter’s pajamas. .
  • On that same note, do we agree with Sarah when she says the actor didn’t make a good movie after 2011? We bought a zoo? The Martian and his cameo in Thor: Ragnarok would like a word.
  • To describe Tom and Connor, Denise says “I know your brothers are Scorpios, but they’re good people too.” As a Scorpio, yes, that comment seems fair.
  • Marina de Souza is a former lawyer who casually jokes that Connor killed his wife. It’s a great subtle callback to her previous ABC role in How to get away with murderwhich also featured Jack Falahee as his law school classmate, Connor Walsh.
  • We’ll be checking out the Hayworth siblings throughout Domestical economy season one, so stay tuned.

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