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Fox's 'Almost Family' Brings Another Immoral Dad to Primetime
October 2, 2019  | By David Hinckley
 

In pretty much any other television season, Timothy Hutton's Dr. Leon Bechley would run away with the coveted "worst father of the year" award.

This fall, he doesn't, through no fault of his own. In Almost Family, which premieres Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET on Fox, Leon is forced to admit that in the process of running a world-renowned fertility clinic, he supplied most of the fertilization himself. 

This still doesn't make him quite as bad as Michael Sheen's Dr. Martin Whitly on Prodigal Son, another new Fox show. Dr. Whitly is a serial killer, which understandably enough has left his son severely traumatized.  

But Dr. Bechley is a player in the bad-Dad game, and Almost Family focuses largely on how his actions have impacted Julia Bechley (Brittany Snow, top), the daughter he had, quaintly enough, with his late wife. 

Julia, who works at the Bechley clinic and serves as its spokesperson, doesn't believe the initial accusations from a Wall Street Journal reporter. She can't imagine her Dad would ever do such a thing. 

Only when Leon tells her that his personal laptop has information that "someone could take the wrong way," does she realize that he did. She takes a deep breath and decides to let the truth come out. 

This does a number on her life. On the bright side, it enlivens Almost Family, which is based on an Australian hit show called Sisters

This one was first titled Sisters, too. It was also almost titled Just Not Me, which was perhaps too evocative of This Is Us, to which Almost Family bears minimal resemblance.

By happenstance and the miracle of television scriptwriting, Julia soon finds herself tethered to two of the many other biological offspring of her father, Edie Palmer (Megalyn Echikunwoke, top) and Roxy Doyle (Emily Osment, top).  

Edie grew up with Julia and once upon a time was Julia's best friend. That was before Edie started dating Julia's boyfriend. Since then, they have been less close. 

This revelation, however, coincides with a fissure in Edie's relationship and slams them back together. 

Roxy, a one-time Olympics champion, now scratches out a residual living at meet-and-greet events promoting second-tier products. Turns out her parents – well, the people she always assumed were her parents – see her as a meal ticket. Learning about Dr. Bechley pushes Roxy to walk out, a stroll that takes her to Julia's place. 

Julia soon realizes a simple admission from Leon won’t end this drama. Beyond the immediate financial implications for the clinic, like shutting down immediately for good, there will be fraud claims and criminal charges. 

Meanwhile, meet our new family, three half-sisters who seem to be in maybe their late 20s.

Julia is impulsive and unfiltered. Roxy feels entitled. Edie has sexual romance issues and a mother who is trying to scratch out a living with a small record store. 

While it’s not exactly Three Broke Girls, you see the potential connection. Almost Family is a dramedy, unafraid to have characters sometimes behave as caricatures and unbothered that over two or three decades, not one of these hundreds of offspring ever discovered his or her genetic connection to Dr. Bechley.  

Viewers also may not be sure how far the original premise, however striking, can carry the drama. 

Fairly soon, presumably, we have to start mostly caring about where the storm has carried Julia, Edie, and Roxy. Let’s assume further comic elements will be involved. With luck, we will get more than a better idea of how a serial killer compares to a serial progenitor.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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