Hit or Sh**: FOX’s THE MICK
In this Crossfader series, our intricate and complex rating system will tell you definitively whether new television pilots are worth your valuable time. We call it: HIT OR SH**.
I struggled for a bit on whether watching THE MICK over my dad’s shoulder one room over was really the ideal way to experience FOX’s new Kaitlin Olson comedy. I certainly had too much shame to openly admit my curiosity in the IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY star’s new vehicle, and my hobgoblin viewing from the shadows allowed me to maintain my fragile dignity. Fortunately for me, but maybe not for FOX and friends, even my severely handicapped vantage point gave me all the information I needed on 2017’s first television premiere.
THE MICK, which I assume is now an acceptable phrase to use, is actually referring to titular character Mickey Murphy (Olson), who arrives at her wealthy sister’s estate to ask for money. When the FBI arrests said sister for fraud, Mickey agrees to look after her three spoiled children for the night. The next day, Mickey gets a call that her sister has fled the country, and she’s now saddled with the tykes indefinitely. Hijinks ensue.
I don’t even have to write out *UuUuurP* for you to hear it
Olson reprises her ALWAYS SUNNY role as a cigarette-smoking, gasoline-siphoning alcoholic, and the show itself is the brainchild of ALWAYS SUNNY producers Dave and John Chernin. On paper, THE MICK sounds like a safe series pitch, and it’s a small wonder that it wasn’t alternatively titled “Sweet Dee Moves to Connecticut.” The problem with THE MICK is that it’s exactly that: safe. Olson’s wasteoid character works beautifully in the unhinged world of McElhenney’s Philadelphia, but is simply loud and crass when thrown into an otherwise conventional sitcom. It’s like mixing orange juice and toothpaste.
THE MICK’s scenarios are all standard fare for cable television. Olson ruins her youngest nephew’s innocence, doles out (poor) auntly advice to the middle child, and out-debauches her wayward eldest niece to bring her in line. There’s nothing here that would feel out of place in THE REAL O’NEALS, and each child actor and prying socialite neighbor plays their part to the tee, feeling like the tired plastic representations of what a writers’ room of 40-year-old men think about the younger generation that we see so often. There’s no challenging setups, and nothing that comes a mile within controversy. The only exception is Olson, whose screwball behavior is only a magnification of your vanilla Crazy Sitcom Uncle, rather than a subversion. Perhaps a more accurate alternate title than my previous example would go something like “Modern Family and Their Gross Aunt.”
Eh, this might as well be from THE MICK
The real shame of THE MICK’s timidity is that rather than building up the otherwise bland premise with Olson’s firecracker performance, the show actually drags her down with it. It’s stifling, suffocating stuff to watch, knowing that Olson could be doing much better if only given the go-ahead. Similar to watching Eric Andre on MAN SEEKING WOMAN, whose half-hearted “wild man” role pales in comparison to the hell he raises on his own show, THE MICK feels like an exercise in futility. You’re only going to watch THE MICK for Kaitlin Olson, but why bother when a show with the same exact actress playing the same exact character, albeit with a cast and setting that she much more effectively plays off of, already exists? The sensation is only further exacerbated when you consider that the 12th season of SUNNY premieres the same week as this show!
I don’t like to dismiss a show out of hand, but it’s really hard to find a scrap of merit in THE MICK. It’s simply redundant, giving us a sitcom that we’ve seen before starring a character lifted in her entirety from a show that already exists. I’ll say this: THE MICK is an interesting case study in how borrowing selective elements from a successful series doesn’t guarantee success, but can rather accelerate failure. If any other lesson is to be taken away from it, it’s to act like a deadbeat aunt and ditch this sucker as fast as possible.
THE MICK airs on Tuesdays on FOX