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'Unusually Thicke': Father Satirizes Best




I tend not to watch reality shows; not for snobby reasons, just a general disinterest, a desire to be somewhere else at the time. Oh, I'll sit through Robert Irvine's muscled-up bellowing on Restaurant: Impossible (the reveal always gets me), and I wish I'd watched more of The Bachelor, if only to indulge in the awesomely uncouth honesty of Juan Pablo. But after that, not much. Which is why I'm writing about Unusually Thicke, TVGN's quasireality sitcom starring Growing Pains star (and pop star Robin's dad) Alan Thicke.

Airing on Wednesday, it's smart, surprisingly funny stuff, fully tweaking the very notion of reality shows. Thicke often drops down into a solemn baritone, as if delivering another lecture to Kirk Cameron. But no one buys his wisdom here. It's unreal, and then at times, it's just real enough. I watched three of them in a row. I wanted more.

Thicke, now 67 and still dad-next-door handsome, is married to third wife Tanya Callau, a voluptuous, slightly ditzy former model who just happens to be 28 years younger than her hubs. Also living with them is teenage son (from another marriage — Alan's had three) Carter, a Hollywood kid who's quick with a line and an eye-roll. There's genuine love, and chemistry, between the three as they skewer usual sitcom tropes: a botched anniversay, May-December differences, Alan's love of swag, his faded career — the latter of which he's all too happy and secure to send up.

Unusually Thicke is most certainly scripted and plotted — celeb cameos by Bob Saget and David Hasselhoff have been hammed up to the hilt — but every now and then a "real" moment slips in. Thicke is a naturally funny guy, but you can tell he's also a decent one. In a recent ep, Alan and Carter visit Robin Thicke during one of the singer's press junkets (as animal lover Tanya, in a secondary plot, adopts a horse — oy). The running gag was how hard it is to be Robin — as we see him riding in limos and flirting with beautiful women. And yet, at half hour's end, Alan joins his Blurred Lines progeny on a local talk show. When asked if he's proud of his boy, Papa Thicke loses it, actual sobbing — unplanned, unscripted, but lovely. It's a nice blend. Unusually Thicke has no prolonged interest in being authentic, but it's wise enough to let the cameras keep rolling when reality finally does set in.

[Last modified: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 8:00am]


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