Jimmy (John Stamos) and Edie (Layla / Emelia Golfieri) in the "Pilot" episode of Grandfathered (FOX)
Jimmy (John Stamos) and Edie (Layla / Emelia Golfieri) in the “Pilot” episode of Grandfathered (FOX)

And the award for “most surprising response to a new sitcom” goes to the John Stamos comedy, Grandfathered. The show has all the elements that I don’t usually approve of but by the end of 30 minutes, its’ charm won me over. Let me explain.

Full House star turned Oikos yogurt expert, John Stamos, plays a 50-year-old selfish and self-absorbed playboy bachelor, Jimmy Martino, owner of a highly successful and posh restaurant. He is unattached in every way and loves it. Then, life as he knows it changes in a matter of moments as they frequently do in sitcom pilots.

Jimmy is visited at his restaurant by Gerald (Josh Peck), who tells Jimmy that he is the by-product of a one night stand and that Jimmy is his father. Oh, and he brought along someone else, Edie, a baby, who would be Jimmy’s granddaughter. Obviously, this is a lot to take in. Jimmy rushes over to his former one-nighter and Gerald’s mother, Sara (Paget Brewster), to chew her out for not telling him that he had a son. As to be expected, she gives some lame reason why this never happened.

The rest of the episode is spent with Jimmy getting to know his new-found son and grandchild. He soon learns that Gerald is lot like his mother and father in that he slept with a girlfriend one night and too became a father “just like that.” The mother of the baby, Vanessa, thinks that she and Gerald are buddies and sharing a baby isn’t much different than sharing an entrée at Olive Garden.

Grandfathered pretty much sums up our current world that has shunned all forms of traditional relationships and marriage in favor or free sex, materialism and “doing what is right for me” attitudes. Sooner or later, this living for yourself mentality will catch up with you. Despite their characters’ outward appearances, all of them are like us – broken people. In the show’s last few frames we get a hint that sitting in Jimmy’s living room is the nucleus family that he didn’t know that he wanted or needed and it put a lump in my throat.

For years it seems that Stamos has struggled to find the right place where he fits in and that may be because of his association with his Full House character. However, in recent years, he has learned the art of making fun of himself and he continues to do the same here. His character is concerned about getting grey hair or becoming too tan. Just like Fonzie had a hard time saying that he was “wrong” in Happy Days, Stamos’ character can’t bring himself to say the word, “Grandfather.” Like it or not, we all get older.

 (L-R) Sara (Paget Brewster), Gerald (Josh Peck) and Vanessa (Christina Milian) (FOX)
(L-R) Sara (Paget Brewster), Gerald (Josh Peck) and Vanessa (Christina Milian) (FOX)

In a press release from FOX, Grandfathered is described as an “unconventional, sophisticated comedy about coming of age – at any age” and that is exactly what it is. The show has a lot of potential storylines about what it means to be committed in a relationship, how to get over past hurts, how to trust others, etc. Will the show make it? It’s hard to say. The show was originally produced by ABC Studios, which would seem to suggest that ABC had intended for the show to land on their own network but passed it off to FOX.

Without watching the show, some will think that it endorses this messed up family lifestyle as “okay,” but my sense is that it does exactly the opposite. If it continues to have its heart in the right place and not settle for typical sitcom silliness, Grandfathered just might have a shot of sticking around.

No, it is not a traditional family sitcom that Christians can usually agree with, but then again, many of us Christians are living with a family situation that we can’t agree with either. We’re all human. We need community and we need a sense that something greater than ourselves is out there. This show addresses the former and just might explore that latter. You never know.

Grandfathered airs on Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. on FOX.

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