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'Indebted' Owes Viewers Better Laughs
February 6, 2020  | By David Hinckley  | 1 comment
 


It's tempting to say that Indebted marks the expansion of the snippy phrase "Okay, Boomer" into a sitcom, except that was already happening more than three decades ago with the likes of Family Ties.

Indebted, which premieres Thursday at 9:30 p.m. ET on NBC, does not, alas, bring 30 years of comedy wisdom to the sitcom table.

On the plus side, it brings Fran Drescher (top) back to network sitcoms. She plays Debbie, wife of Stew (Steven Weber, top) and mother of Dave (Adam Pally), who is married to Rebecca (Abby Elliott).

Debbie and Stew are formerly wealthy baby boomers who have run out of money because they spent it all on things like extravagant trips and vacations for themselves.

When cash ran short, they decided to save by going without health insurance. So when they had medical issues, it ate up the rest of their savings.

Do not worry. Indebted is not a sitcom about the healthcare crisis in America. It's about two shortsighted narcissists who are now broke and have shown up at their kids' door in hopes they can guilt the kids into letting them move in.

But just until Dave, who's a contractor, can arrange to have Debbie and Stew's house renovated so they can put it up for sale and have some money again.

This comes just as the kids have become old enough that Dave and Rebecca can start to recapture a little life of their own. So they aren't happy about suddenly having the nest get more crowded, a frustration to which Debbie and Stew, being totally self-centered baby boomers, are oblivious.

You see where this sitcom is going. Unfortunately, you can see where everything is going in this sitcom, from the plotlines down to the individual jokes.

Drescher delivers her punch lines better than most viewers, but still, there's some dilution of the joke when we know the punch line in advance.

It's no spoiler to say that, in their outward urge to help, Debbie and Stew start infusing the household with their unfortunate notions about things like sensible nutrition and the appropriate age at which pre-schoolers should start wearing pole-dancer makeup.

We get an occasional pause for pathos, like when Debbie and Stew explain how they're really trying hard even when they don't seem to be able to think of anyone but themselves 97% of the time. These poignant moments play off the TV axiom, a bedrock of every show from The Simpsons to The Sopranos, that nothing is dangerous or stupid enough to break up a family.

Okay.

A more specific red flag for Indebted is that it's written to the joke, not the storyline. That is, jokes don't flow from situations as much as situations seem designed to set up the jokes.

One scene shoehorned into the first episode enables Debbie and Dave to reminisce about wacky, oblivious things she did when he was young, thus spreading the same joke over several decades.

The conversation between Dave and Rebecca is also sprinkled with sex jokes, often a sign that creativity has slowed to a trickle in the writers' room. A topless gag straight out of a junior high school locker room stretches over two segments.

The biggest problem facing Indebted may be that the premise doesn't give it much room to run, and frankly, there just isn't that much fresh material in the field. Boomers, for better or worse, don't seem to have gotten funnier over the last 30 years.

 
 
 
 
 
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1 Comments
 
 
Mac
After numerous ads for this last night during the Chicago franchise shows,this looks like something even TV Land would pass up. Never a Dreshler fan-the only positive of her Nanny show were the opening credits of animation and the theme from Ann Hampton Callaway. Once the humans showed up,it was time to switch away. After Wed. promos, even Pixar & Kristen Bell for opening credits won't bring me near this.
Feb 6, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
 
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