Jason Biggs has gone from American Pie to American parent. His new show, Outmatched (8:30PM ET Thursdays on FOX), has him and his wife Kay (Maggie Lawson) as blue collar workers of average intelligence surrounded by a trio of genius (and one not-so-genius) kids.
The show tries to put a twist on the family-centric situation comedy, teenagers that are intellectually mature but emotionally are still teenagers that don’t quite fit in anywhere.
Take Me To The Pilot
At least I think that’s the premise. The pilot episode never got them out of the house. The pilot tried to establish everything and everyone in 22 minutes, and ended up doing nothing but delivering predictable plot points and jokes that failed to land.
-Parents unprepared for the challenges of 1 gifted child, let alone 3
-Overacting by overachieving kids (there was more exaggeration than a politician’s stump speech)
-Parents encourage bad behavior so they can all relate
-The repeated parental pleas for normalcy
All those had potential to land, but all failed miserably. They could have done one or two, developed the family over a couple of episodes. But instead it was all shoved down our throats at once. I’m willing to give the show more time, but I’ll be hate-watching tonight.
Maggie made being outmatched by family and life sound much more exciting. “We are. I’d say we are outmatched by all of it. We have three kids. Jason and I play husband and wife. We have three kids four kids. Three of those kids are off the charts certified geniuses. One of them are not. We are not. We have no idea how we had three geniuses. And then comedy ensues.” “And then the shenanigans,” Jason added.
Shenanigans is a great word here. An old expression in a modern setting. Outmatched is an unimaginative 1970s style sitcom that tries to update itself for the 2020s.
Clearly there is a reason I wasn’t given a copy of the episode before it aired. If I had seen it early, I’d have posted this last week, out of fear the show would be cancelled before tonight’s second episode.
But you know what was fun? The rest of my Cocktail Convo with Maggie and Jason!
The Great Escape
In the episode, Mike and Kay hide in their basement to smoke pot and lament the burden of having smart kids and all the expenses that go with it. In real life, Jason can relate. He has two kids and told me how he gets away. The first is pretty basic. “I have two places. One is the bathroom. But even that is difficult, that’s hard. If I forget to lock the door, obviously, then forget it. Even if I remember to lock the door, often it will be banging banging banging for the whole duration of my business.”
The other is a level of desperation that led to a solution a lot of apartment-dwelling parents may find innovative. “The other place I go sometimes is just downstairs in the lobby. We live in New York. Jenny and I have had a babysitter come over, and we’ve left and we’ve just gone downstairs to the lobby until the kids fall asleep. And then we go back upstairs and let the babysitter go home.”
Maggie recognized this tactic. “That’s ripped from the show. Except we don’t have a babysitter. They just lay there on their own.”
And when Jason really needs to be alone, he finds solitude with a few thousand people. “I’ll go and hang out in Times Square for an hour. If my kids aren’t there, it’ll probably be more peaceful.”
Life Imitates Art
While the cross generations clearly lack chemistry on screen, Maggie and Jason say they’re becoming a real family off the set. “A dream,” Maggie told me. “These kids are so good and so talented. They’re so professional and they’re really just great kids. The dynamic that’s already taken shape on set is very similar to our family on the show.”
And, yes, the kids are often smarter than their aged co-stars. “We actually have moments we’ll hear about an app. Jason the other day was ‘I don’t know how to repost this thing,’ on Instagram or whatever. And I’ll be like ask one of the kids. Because they know, they know all of that.” “Life imitating art,” Jason said.
While they were in Los Angeles, I was talking to them from Miami, and they pointed out things are a little busy here this week. “I hear there’s an event or something happening soon in Miami, is that right?” Jason asked. I thought maybe they had heard about my pool party and invited them. Turns out, they were talking about Super Bowl LIV.
Of course with the game on FOX, a lot of the network’s stars have been popping up at the playoff games. I asked if they were coming down for the game. Jason makes it sound like they’re getting first class treatment. “They got us Greyhound tickets, we’re leaving on a bus tomorrow. We should be there on time if we don’t hit traffic. Traffic’s always bad around Phoenix.
Well they’re still invited to my pool party.
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation.
I told them they’re still invited to my pool party, and Jason says he’s ready. “I’ll bring the ambrosia.” So with that citrus dish coming to the buffet, I’m adding Soli Orange to the bar, and mixing it with pineapple juice and a splash of Sprite. It’s light, fruity and fizzy, and soooo very Miami.