March Madness: Family Affair

Oh, the networks are on to us. Is it because our smart homes are recording us? Do they knew we love a good cry? Whatever the case, the networks can only deliver ensemble family dynamics. I’ll take Schitt’s Creek over the Pearson family any day, and, well, that’s why we have you vote, to keep the game fair.

Some family dramas bring laughs, while some bring only pain manipulated by suits in L.A. I’ve broken the shows up, because it’s just not right to compare the Huangs to the ghost of Ron Livingston.

First Steven Universe flashes its gem against We Bare Bears.

Since Ice Bear is lefthanded, I let Fiona take the lead on Steven: Steven Universe is part of the long line of animated television shows that is beloved by children and adults alike. Centered around Steven and the Crystal Gems, Steven Universe is a colorful sci-fi adventure. Steven is half-human and half-gem and spends most of his time trying to understand what that means. Pearl, Amethyst, and Garnet are in charge of Steven’s care, training him and adventuring with him. From uncharted space missions to unintentional fusions, Steven Universe is all about love, trust, and community. Beautiful animation, original songs, and imaginative storylines all add to the magic that is Steven Universe.

We Bare Bears is more childish, but its warm heart (like an overbearing, American Paddington) shows that a family is what you make it, and sometimes that’s minors who supply you with ramen.

In our second round, an established sitcom faces a brand-new comedy. Fiona is devoted to Fresh Off the Boat, let her tell you:

Now in its fifth season, Fresh Off the Boat continues to shine as a delightful family comedy. The whole family is growing up, Jessica is looking to start a new career, Evan has started dating, and Eddie is gaining independence with his new driver’s license. This season another Chinese family has finally moved to Orlando! We’ve really been able to see Jessica’s growth as a person and mother by her interactions. Honey and Marvin are in the throes of new parenthood, but both are enough to provide the Huangs much needed advice.

Jason’s been watching The Other Two, and really needed it included in this year’s Madness: Cary and Brooke Dubek are both wannabe stars wandering aimlessly through their (late) 20’s, the former trying to make it as an actor, the latter coming down from a career as a dancer, when lightning strikes them in the form of their 13-year-old brother’s sudden fame as YouTube performer Chase Dreams (get it?). Neither handles it well and while their runaway neuroses in dealing with their jealousy and confusion is hilarious, it’s the three siblings’ genuine love for each other that has made this show’s first season special — Ken Marino and Molly Shannon rounding out the cast doesn’t hurt either.

Meanwhile, I deliberately pit NBC’s This is Us, an emotionally manipulative tearjerker (if you don’t like it, then, I guess you don’t love your dead relative) against ABC’s deliberate attack on the Peacock, A Million Little Things, which says, “Your Dad died in a fire? This man’s best friend ‘mysteriously’ killed himself and he has breast cancer!” For god sakes, Trump is president, but our weekly worry is what godawful thing these shows will do next. Both promise, by the way, to end very, very badly.

Less dramatic, but with the same heft is Schitt’s Creek, which looks like a 300-minute sitcom, but faces its characters (spoiled and ego-driven) to face their flaws, particularly when it comes to David and Alexis’s relationships. We see the family strive to become better, more loving people, and, if you’ll forgive me, it’s simply the best.

Taking on the Canadian comedy is One Day at a Time, the uproariously heartfelt comedy that Netflix canceled for no goddamn reason, except that the streaming service hates the Latinix comedy. What. Come at me.

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