The new Fox comedy ‘The Mick’ is a great showcase for Kaitlin Olson, but the show centered on the ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ star could be more original. If the only accomplishment of Fox’s new comedy The Mick is to give Kaitlin Olson a few minutes of solo screen time, that may be sufficient.
As undervalued as Sunny has been, Olson is likely its most undervalued component. But she’s been there since the beginning, she’s not a member of the core creative trio of Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton, and Charlie Day; consequently, she’s viewed as “less than,” although I would argue that Sweet Dee is the show’s essential element.
Sunny has continually raised the bar on stunts, from musicals to a leading man gaining 50 pounds in one random season, but so many of the non-stunt highlights for me have been centered around Olson’s loose-limbed physicality and her ability to go ugly and then dig deep to find something uglier and funnier.
The Mick, which premiered on January 1 and moved to its usual Tuesday home on January 3, is written by Sunny veterans Dave Chernin and John Chernin, who, in theory, should be familiar with Olson’s range and abilities. They demonstrate this comprehension temporarily.
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After four episodes, though, The Mick has settled into the frustrating position of being a comedy created for cable but compelled to play by network constraints, too soft and indecisive but continuously elevated by Olson.
Mackenzie, portrayed by Olson, takes a day excursion from her Rhode Island home to Greenwich, Connecticut, to visit her sister, who is married to a wealthy financier.
When the FBI raids the family barbecue and carts off the sister and brother-in-law for fraud or whatever, Mackenzie is forced to oversee her icy niece Sabrina (Sophia Black D’Elia), her snobbish nephew Chip (Thomas Barbusca), and her out-of-control nephew Ben (Jack Stanton).
Mackenzie is ill-equipped to care for young cousins she has never met, but she is eager to take advantage of the family’s wealth and line of credit, which are mysteriously not blocked or taken by the federal government.
Mackenzie’s drinking and spending spree climb to the precise level of depravity Fox are willing to tolerate, and she endangers the children to the exact amount of child endangerment Fox is willing to tolerate. However, if you’ve watched a movie before, specifically Uncle Buck, you’ll be able to anticipate that Mackenzie will quickly transform from dangerously unfit to parent to merely unusual.
“Dangerous unsuitability” is where Olson resides most comfortably, or at least in the funniest manner. She says improper things with a sparkle and then extinguishes that twinkle due to excessive drinking that defies cliches of stumbling and slurring.
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The parts surrounding Olson do poorly in the pilot. Alba, the family’s Guatemalan maid portrayed by Carla Jimenez, begins in a clichéd manner, and while Alba becomes a much improved and occasionally intriguing member of the ensemble in later episodes, you must first take it on faith. But Olson’s manic vigor compensates for many of the show’s shortcomings.
In the second episode, which was by far the poorest of the four submitted to critics, the required switch to something more network-friendly occurs rapidly. So much time in the second episode is devoted to discussing recurring questions, such as whether or not these children have relatives who are better suited to serve as guardians.
Why is Mackenzie so willing to abandon her own life? — that the tone becomes really unattractive. I do not dispute the necessity to distinguish between true abuse (as shown by Concetta Tomei as the children’s grandmother) and Mackenzie’s style of well-intentioned gaffes, but the difference is established in an offensive and humorous manner.
Subsequent episodes settle into a pattern of Mackenzie risking one or all of the children in a relatively routine manner, albeit with decent intentions. It is to the show’s credit that it does not end each episode with a soothing family embrace, but its fangs have been quickly filed down.
The version of The Mick in which Mackenzie is Mary Poppins with attitude — I’d have gone with “Amelia Bad-Elia,” but nobody would get the reference — makes it easier for the child endangerment misadventures to continue, because we know she always means well and nothing that happens to the children in one episode will leave scars in the next.
Little Ben is a particularly resilient target for things that would be a real parent’s worst nightmare — licking a hibachi, taking Mackenzie’s birth control pills, etc. — and Stanton gives one of those truly dedicated child performances that makes you question, “Does the kid know what he’s doing?” Time will tell if he’s funny as an actor or just a prop, but he’s obviously entertaining, and his exaggerated reactions complement the broader, more physical aspect of Olson’s comedy.
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Olson has a good verbal sparring partner in D’Elia, who is adept with cutting one-liners. The writers have yet to determine how to pair Olson and Barbusca’s Chip, so she primarily offers him questionable pearls of wisdom while he receives his punishment elsewhere.
It is essential to find a way to connect the third child to Olson’s abilities, as this is essentially what The Mick has going for him. It doesn’t offer a particularly novel family dynamic or cast of people, but it’s an opportunity to bring Olson and what she does best in front of a larger audience than Sunny probably does.
There are worse things than a weekly double dose of one of television’s funniest women, despite Fox’s odd decision to run The Mick at midseason just as fresh episodes of Sunny premiere.
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Is the Mick Unsuitable?
The Mick is a comedy series about an irresponsible mother who takes custody of her pampered nieces and nephews. Even though it is presented in a funny manner, it contains content and themes that make it a less-than-ideal watching option for children.
In the Mick, What Was Meant to Happen to Sabrina?
John Chernin recalls, “Mickey couldn’t tolerate the notion of that, so she’d put Sabrina in a wheelchair and take her clubbing for the wildest night in Manhattan imaginable.
Why Was Jenny Eliminated From Sabrina?
Jenny’s “disappearance,” according to Hart, was due to audience reaction and writer substitutions. Season after season, our show’s cast would change dependent on fan response, and there would often be disagreements over contracts and disputes regarding remuneration for certain actors.