The new CBS comedy, Life in Pieces, is such a sad disaster. Clearly trying to come up with their own version of Modern Family, Life in Pieces falls short on many levels, which is very sad given that it features an excellent cast but also weak and tasteless writing. When watching the pilot you can’t help to think to yourself how much better this show could have been.
The show partially gets its name from that fact that each half hour episode is divided up into four short stories about one large family. The cast includes:
Patriarch and matriarch of the family: John (James Brolin) and Joan (Dianne Wiest)
Oldest sister and her family: Heather (Betsy Brandt) and husband Tim (Dan Bakkedahl) and their three children: Tyler (Niall Cunningham), Samantha (Holly J. Barrett) and Sophia (Giselle Eisenberg).
Middle brother and his girlfriend: Matt (Thomas Sadoski) and Colleen (Angelique Cabral)
Youngest Brother and his wife: Greg (Colin Hanks) and Jen (Zoe Lister-Jones)
Though the pilot episode has a few promising moments, it all goes downhill pretty quickly. As each story passes, you hope that the next one gets better. It doesn’t. Remarkably, a show about family managed to weave in the subject of sex in each of the four stories. Now, I don’t have a problem with a show talking about sex in general, especially if the talk is between husband and wife, but in most cases with the pilot, the scenarios and talk were crude and tasteless.
The first story features dating couple Matt and Colleen looking for a place to have sex. She lives with her emotionally unhinged ex-fiancé and he lives with his parents.
The second story deals with Greg and Jen dealing with being parents for the first time. Like most parents, they are overwhelmed and Jen is overly concerned with what the baby did to her body.
The third story deals with Heather and Tim delivering their son to visit a college. Tim tells Tyler about his sex life. Then, back at the hotel, fearing the empty nest syndrome, Heather tells Tim that she wants to have another baby. Right there by the ice machine. There is also some discussion on how the parents have lied to their youngest daughter about the reality of Santa Claus. This is supposed to be adorable, but instead it’s just lame.
Finally, the fourth story comes. It’s John’s birthday and he thought it would be great to hold a mock funeral for the occasion. It seems that it will be clear of any sex talk, but we’re not safe here either.
The show tries hard to take a moment of two for sentimentality, but even that feels off. That’s the best way to describe the show – it just feels “off.” Though the show does deliver a few great lines, many fall flat. In contrast, what makes other family-centered shows like The Middle and Modern Family so likeable is that we can relate to them. Life in Pieces certainly covers themes that we can all relate to, and like the other shows mentioned, creates unrealistic scenarios, but without the skilled writing that brings a balance of heart and humor.
It’s possible that the next episode could be better, but with a title like “Interupts Date Breast Movin,” it is doubtful. Maybe if CBS scraps the current concept and re-builds the show, it might be worth watching.
Life in Pieces airs on Mondays at 8:30 p.m. on CBS.