Fall Sitcom Review Roundup: The Good, the I Feel Bad and the Unwatchable

Fall TV Sitcoms Single Parents I Feel Bad The Neighborhood

Fall TV has arrived, and it’s brought with it a fresh crop of network sitcoms hoping to earn a cherished spot on your DVR. But are any of them any good?

We here at TVLine want to save you from wasting several half-hours of your life you’ll never get back, so we’ve taken an early peek at six of this fall’s new sitcom offerings (all debuting in the next month) and given each of them a quick mini review, along with a letter grade, based on their pilots. We’re happy to report that at least one or two of them are worth a try, but fair warning: A few of them are also to be avoided at all costs.

Read on to see which sitcoms made us laugh… and which had us reaching for the remote.

Single Parents (ABC, Sept. 26) — ABC’s once formidable sitcom assembly line has sputtered a bit in recent years, but it’s produced another winner here: Single Parents is hands down the fall’s funniest new sitcom. SNL alum Taran Killam is a riot as Will, a hopelessly dorky single dad who gets taken in by a battle-tested clique of single parents who want to shake him out of his world’s-best-dad funk. The kids are cute, the one-liners have plenty of zing and the cast feels like a well-oiled ensemble already, highlighted by Leighton Meester and Emmy winner Brad Garrett. (If you’ve ever wanted to hear Garrett sing selections from Moana, now’s your chance!) Genuinely funny network sitcoms are nearing extinction these days, so let’s make sure this one sticks around to see Season 2, huh? Grade: B+

The Cool Kids (Fox, Sept. 28) — With all due respect to Blanche Devereaux’s bedroom antics, Fox’s old-folks sitcom is an even raunchier version of The Golden Girls, with Vicki Lawrence starring as a newcomer to a retirement home ruled by a trio of tight-knit pals played by David Alan Grier, Martin Mull and Leslie Jordan. It’s crass and formulaic, and a lot of the jokes boil down to “Hey, that old guy sure doesn’t act old!” But these seasoned sitcom veterans know how to sell a punchline to a live studio audience. (Jordan, in particular, is a hoot, getting a rare chance to shine after decades of supporting work.) I’m hoping the mediocre writing can eventually rise to meet the level of the cast, but for now, there are worse ways to spend your Friday nights than with this cozy throwback. Grade: C+

The Neighborhood (CBS, Oct. 1) — Are you eager to see a CBS sitcom address the urgent racial issues that face us today? You didn’t say yes, but if you had, this wholly regrettable sitcom would be for you. It’s bad enough when a painfully white guy (Max Greenfield) moving his painfully white family to a black neighborhood (where Cedric the Entertainer plays the resident patriarch) is played for stale laughs. But even worse, it also tries to earnestly bridge the racial divide with corny dramatic scenes that would make Norman Lear’s eyes roll right out of his skull. A quality cast does its best, but can’t salvage the cringe-worthy dialogue and paper-thin characterizations. Will we one day find a way to live in racial harmony? I’m betting this show won’t stay on the air long enough for us to find out. Grade: D

Happy Together (CBS, Oct. 1) — Maybe I’m grading on a curve here, but I’m happy to announce that this is the rare recent CBS sitcom that I didn’t want to immediately chuck into the reject pile. A lot of the appeal here lies in the casting: Damon Wayans Jr., such a delight on Happy Endings, stars as an accountant whose mega pop star client (Felix Mallard) decides to crash with him and his wife (Amber Stevens West) to avoid the paparazzi and get a taste of the simple life. Wayans and Stevens West have a fun, easy chemistry on screen, and Mallard is charming enough to help make an admittedly goofy premise work. The jokes could use some polishing, and the concept could easily grow old in a hurry, but the trio of Wayans, Stevens West and Mallard nudge this one a solid notch above your average network sitcom. Grade: B-

I Feel Bad (NBC, preview aired Sept. 19; officially premieres Oct. 4) — If nothing else, I guess we should applaud this show for proving that racially diverse casts can make terrible sitcoms, too? Indian-American star Sarayu Blue deserves better than this depressingly generic show about a harried working mom who’s trying her best — but it’s hard to have it all, you guys! When it’s not burying us in an avalanche of creaky sitcom clichés, it’s creeping us out with inappropriate sex jokes. (Note to network executives: A woman asking her much younger male coworkers if she’s “still doable” is not funny in 2018. Or ever, really.) All I could think while watching is: They cancelled Great News for this?? Grade: D

The Kids Are Alright (ABC, Oct. 16) — If The Wonder Years and Malcolm in the Middle had a sepia-toned baby, it’d be this ABC sitcom about a Catholic family of eight boys living in the L.A. suburbs in the early 1970s. (We can blame the time period for one horribly clunky “phony news” gag about Watergate.) The house is a whirlwind of chaos, painting a rosy picture of a bygone era full of yelling parents and neglected kids. (“We can’t afford asthma,” Mom barks at one ailing son. “That’s just smog.”) Michael Cudlitz has a few nice moments as gruff but tenderhearted dad Mike, but ultimately, the show isn’t funny or heartwarming enough to overcome how familiar it feels. Also, maybe it’s not a great time for gauzy nostalgia about the Catholic Church in the ’70s? Grade: C

Which of these new fall sitcoms has you the most intrigued? Tell us what you’ll be watching in a comment below.