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‘Hollywood Darlings’: ’90s Nostalgia Goes Sour

·Critic-at-Large, Yahoo Entertainment
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My editor really owes me one for this. I agreed at her request to look at Hollywood Darlings, a new “improvised comedy” on the Pop network. It features Jodie Sweetin from Full and Fuller House, 7th Heaven’s Beverley Mitchell, and Step By Step’s Christine Lakin. You know, ’90s nostalgia is hot these days, and I used to watch all these shows when my kids were young; it seemed like a painless enough assignment. Little did I know…

The starring trio are, apparently, friends in real life. In the first episode, they sit around moaning about how exhausting marriage and motherhood can be. Lakin laments to her pals that she and her husband had better sex when they were childless: “We used to do it everywhere, the kitchen counter, the kitchen floor…” Sweetin notes, “Remind me never to eat at your house.”

To give them some activities to do on-camera, Sweetin substitute-teaches a children’s acting class, while Mitchell and Lakin attend a “spiritual center” for a “healing spiritual journey.” It turns out the healing exercises are led by Andrew Keegan, who reached a career high-point years ago playing a teen mooning over Jessica Biel’s Mary in 7th Heaven. (The series will continue to play up the nostalgia angle by having more such cameos, including Tamera Mowry from Sister, Sister and Jaleel White — Urkel from Family Matters.)

Keegan over-acts hammily as an excessively earnest spiritual leader with a tendency toward horniness. He instructs Lakin in the practice of “orgasmic eating”: they chow down on “chocolate balls” while moaning suggestively, and the half-hour becomes riddled with double-entendres about “eating balls.” Believe me, the last thing I ever wanted to see was Wilson West faking an orgasm.

The Pop press release says, “In this improvised comedy, the three actresses play exaggerated versions of themselves in their current Hollywood lives.” Yeah, sure: This show is about as improvised as a Catholic mass. Sweetin told The New York Daily News, “We wanted people to realize this is not our real life, it’s not reality. We wanted it to be very fun, ridiculous, over-the-top-silly. We wanted it to have the feel of a sitcom.” If this is a sitcom, it’s one that makes Step By Step look like Orange Is The New Black. Strained and poorly performed, Hollywood Darlings can’t make nostalgia seem like a fun idea. After sitting through this, I’m telling my editor I’m taking the afternoon off for a nice little nap.

Hollywood Darlings airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on Pop.

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