Jenna Elfman deserves more than a fluffy CGI co-star. We all do, really.
Imaginary Mary is ABC's latest attempt at another heartwarming family comedy. This one comes from Adam F. Goldberg, whose other show, The Goldbergs, is part of the network's run of solid sitcoms.
Mary is a disappointing addition that explores a tired premise with one quirk: A successful working woman (Elfman) suppressing her maternal instincts unexpectedly falls for a dorky dude (Stephen Schneider, Broad City) with three kids. In order to cope with her newfound responsibilities and anxieties, Alice's childhood imaginary friend Mary reappears.
Mary, voiced by Saturday Night Live alum Rachel Dratch, isn't quite the sweet thing she looks like. She's quick with biting remarks and amusing commentary. Her parenting advice is at first meant to sabotage Alice's relationship. But soon they team up to learn how "to mom."
The show is a little judgmental for finding humor in a woman who didn't plan on raising a family. We're supposed to laugh at Alice's stress over what snacks to bring the kids, but to be honest, it's more painful to watch the youngest "accidentally" break Alice's vintage electric guitar.
It's just too bad the right man for Alice just happened to have kids, amirite? But don't worry, she'll figure it out, with her talking security blanket, and learn to love this new chaotic life.
The kids bring some comic relief, as each of their stereotypical characters have enjoyable individuality. There's the bedheaded and socially awkward teen Andy (Nicholas Coombe); Dora (Matreya Scarrwener), a real-life Daria from MTV; and the sweetly philosophical Bunny (Erica Tremblay). They make the show somewhat charming as Alice tries to bond with each kid. And Mary just gets in the way.
As Alice tries to ignore Mary, we do too. This annoying Furby-like creature only interacts with Alice, which poses a problem. Sure, it's funny in theory to watch a crazy woman talk to herself in the car, but even Elfman isn't that adorable. In the two episodes given to critics, no one has noticed Alice is talking to someone who isn't there, but it'll be hard to keep that charade going for much longer.
Plus, we know what happens with imaginary friends: They go away when we don't need them anymore. And we've learned our lesson here: Even the delightful Elfman can't save Imaginary Mary.
Contact Brittany Volk at [email protected] Follow @bevolk.