There is absolutely nothing about the vague, bland premise of ABC’s new comedy, “Home Economics,” that would make you think the show would be funny. So, you’d be forgiven for skipping it, as I almost did. But if you don’t watch, you’ll miss a great show that’s as heartwarming as it is hilarious, thanks to a standout cast and solid writing that takes a seemingly weak idea and turns it into something pretty special.
“Economics” focuses on three adult siblings: Tom, Sarah and Connor. Tom (Topher Grace) is a best-selling author desperately trying to get his career back after his last book flopped. His stay-at-home wife, Marina (Karla Souza), tries to be understanding while mothering their three young kids and contemplating a return to the workforce. Sarah (Caitlin McGee), a child therapist, has two kids with her wife, Denise (Sasheer Zamata), a schoolteacher, and has always struggled financially. Connor (Jimmy Tatro) is a millionaire, with a wife and daughter who want for nothing.
In the premiere, Connor invites his siblings to his new home, which he purchased from Matt Damon. Tom and Sarah instantly struggle with trying to be happy for him, especially with what is going on in their own lives. But once they discover that maybe there is more to their brother’s life than meets the eye, the trio reaches an understanding and decides to try harder to be a family without letting money issues divide them. Of course, all that may change once Sarah and Connor realize the subject of Tom’s new book — their family.
I honestly can’t really explain what it is that makes “Economics” funny, as siblings fighting over money really isn’t the kind of stuff of which great sitcoms are made. But the show is laugh-out-loud hilarious thanks to whip-smart writing that injects lots of heart along with the jokes. McGee should have been a star after her leading role in the drama “Bluff City Law,” but she’s getting that opportunity again in a comedy that spotlights both her excellent comic timing and compassionate delivery. Zamata is perfectly cast, and I’m excited to finally see her in a spotlight she never received during her time on “Saturday Night Live.” Souza, who played every dramatic note possible for years on “How to Get Away with Murder,” is absolutely hysterical in her supporting role. And Grace, who also serves as an executive producer, is excellent as always with his beautifully subtle comedy playing well against the more over-the-top Tatro.
With a title that makes it sound like a reality show starring family members competing to save money, “Economics” certainly has its work cut out for it if it’s going to be a success. But I am certainly rooting for it, and I encourage all of you to check it out as well.
“Home Economics” premieres at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 7, on ABC.