This article contains information that could be considered too revealing according to our spoiler policy. Proceed with caution. You can't unsee it!Reason The show premieres a few days after this post's publication; we got a screener.
Should Your Regular Plans Include Man With A Plan?
Well, there's no way it could be as bad as Joey, could it? Oh, man...oh God...what if it is? Somebody check in on Matt LeBlanc.
What Is This Thing?
Married mother of three Andi (Liza Snyder) decides to go back to work after thirteen years, and is expecting her husband -- a manly building contractor named Adam (Matt LeBlanc), in case we didn't get how primal and manly he is -- to help pick up some of the domestic duties at home. What follows is a master class in showing how women still shoulder a disproportionate burden of domestic duties even when both parents work. Unfortunately, this is played for comedy, since the show is about how hard it is for Adam when his wife can only spend 16 hours a day dancing attendance upon everyone else, instead of the accustomed 24. In other words, if you're looking for the sitcom treatment of Brigid Schulte's Overwhelmed, you've found it.
When Is It On?
Mondays at 8:30 PM on CBS, starting on October 24.
Why Was It Made Now?
Because the world is terrifying place: many of society's thought leaders seem to imply that women are people with agency, and it's mean to make jokes about people with funny accents and strange superstitions, and somehow people are allowed to say "Happy holidays" and men can marry other men. Now some people are also saying men should parent their children. What is this? Did we lose a war?
Fortunately, we have this show to remind us of the natural order of things: dullard, children, woman.
What's Its Pedigree?
It's an in-house property from CBS Television Studios and CBS Television Network, created by That '70s Show writers/producers Jeff and Jackie Filgo. Although Matt LeBlanc is the big name and lead on the show, what you should really pay attention to is his wife's casting. Liza Snyder, formerly of Yes, Dear, telegraphs exactly what you're getting into here: a middle-of-the-road filler sitcom to mark the time between episodes of Hottie Loves A Fattie, or whatever CBS calls its married-couples sitcoms these days, and It's Good To Be A White Guy, or whatever CBS calls its SNL-alum sitcoms these days.
Hoo boy, do we have things to say about it.
What in the blue hell did I just watch?
I think we just watched an episode of Black Mirror, one where we saw a portal into a terrifying mirrorverse where none of the rules makes sense.
I feel like it's an attack ad against egalitarian relationships paid for a PAC supporting our political rival. "Philip and Lisa think that they're equal partners in a relationship. But what sick delusion are they really misled by? Wrong about parenting, wrong for America."
The kindergarten drop-off scene rings so false to me. For one, we recently did that with our kiddo, and there were just as many dads there. Granted, we live in the San Francisco Bay Area -- cue the attack ad!
"Philip Michaels and Lisa Schmeiser have San Francisco values..."
And thank you. My point is that dads are already pretty engaged, and this show is asking us to believe that, for thirteen years, this dude has been a hands-off parent? It doesn't track to any social science research, it doesn't track to anecdotal experience: it feels like someone opened a time capsule to write that scene.
I don't know, Lisa. The beta dad...
Can we talk for a moment about the Beta Dad? The show repeatedly points out that Lowell (as played by Matt Cook) is basically Ellen DeGeneres, down to the sweater vest.
He struck me as a commedia dell'arte character, like "the miser" or "the fool," only here it's "the NPR-listening dad" and Sean Hannity's provided the script. Let's point at NPR Dad and gawk at his foolish ways!
Speaking of stock characters, how about that trashy single mom with the terribly-behaved child? Marie-the-single-mom is a morality play in motion.
And yet, I feel that she and Beta Dad and Adam are going to have adventures together. Adventures validating a very specific worldview, but adventures nonetheless. The important thing is that beta dads and all mothers understand their places, Lisa.
Yeah. We had to pause the pilot after the scene where Andi's terrible children and useless husband demand that she still wait on them hand and foot, and she responds not by checking into the Hilton until everyone comes to Jesus, but by getting up at 5 AM to hand-letter schedules and assume more chores.
I'm trying to imagine a scenario where I pull this stunt that doesn't end up with me murdered and my ghost testifying for your defense. "I had it coming," my ghost will say, rattling his chains for effect.
I would not be convicted by a jury of my peers.
You know, you and I have a weakness for Hallmark holiday movies -- which are these aggressively red-state-"traditional"-values-" "'round here, we say 'Merry Christmas,' mister!" movies. But those feel sincere in their worldview. Man With A Plan feels like a bunch of writers stuck in a room at Sunset and Gower, given the assignment "Write something for the simple, flyover folk."
I can think of one use for this show. Record a whole bunch on the DVR and then, over Thanksgiving, sit down your most retrograde relatives and let them marathon the show while the grown-ups have a nice conversation in the other room.
I hate everything about this show. I hate the fact that during its entire run time, I cracked no smile nor suppressed one chuckle, nor thought, "It's not my cup of tea, but I can see where it appeals." It is like a CBS executive found an old videotape of a pilot rejected in 1983 for being too conservative and said, "Meh, this will fill time."
I already know CBS is not my network. I watched Supergirl all last year and all the network promos were like angry letters to the editor -- "Marmaduke doesn't reflect my values!" I'm not the target audience here, and I'm okay with that. What I object to is the missed opportunity. This could have been a show that managed to land laughs while also pointing out how tiring it is to balance domestic obligations against workplace responsibilities. But instead, the entire notion is that Mom is selfish for working and now everyone's lives are askew. I can't imagine too many working mothers saying, "I've had a long day. Time to unwind by watching a show that posits I have no right to a life outside unpaid servitude to my family!"
Don't be surprised, Lisa. This show will be a rip-roaring success. I'll see it when I'm trapped on airplanes until at least 2021.