Kaitlin Olson, so essential to the genial vulgarity of FX’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, has taken on the lead in a network sitcom, Fox’s The Mick. The reasons for doing this are sensible: Why wouldn’t the co-star of a long-running cable comedy welcome the chance to star in her own show? And why wouldn’t she feel comfortable doing this when she’s accompanied by a couple of writer-producers (Dave and John Chernin) who helped make her first series a success? And, not to be discounted: network money, baby.
For about half of The Mick’s first episode, which aired on New Year’s Day, the show was pretty funny. Olson stars as Mackenzie, aka Mickey — and hence the “Mick” title — a slacker ne’er-do-well who becomes the guardian of her niece and nephews when their parents are nabbed by law enforcement for fraud and tax evasion. At first, the prospect of the penniless, larcenous Mickey sprawling around a huge Greenwich, Conn., house seems promising, especially after we see her deal sharply with her spoiled, entitled young charges.
But once the concept is established, The Mick has one of only two ways to go. The show either leaves Mickey constantly at odds with a nephew or a niece (Sophia Black D’Elia, all sullen scheming, is easily the most formidable of the kids), or reverses that gimmick, uniting Mickey and the kids against outside forces, such as authority figures who might want to break up this new, half-baked family unit.
The result, as it settles into its regular time period on Tuesday, is a much more conventional show than It’s Always Sunny, even as Olson tries valiantly to distinguish Mickey from that show’s Sweet Dee character. The problem is, this Fox show can’t go as far in its comic crudity as Sunny can on basic cable, yet if The Mick is intentionally conceived of as a crazy-but-warm family sitcom, in the tradition of Malcolm in the Middle or The Middle, that’s not how it comes across in the three episodes I’ve seen. It’s just an OK sitcom with a frequently charming performance by Olson, which may be enough for a while, wedged in between New Girl and Bones. But it also seems like the kind of project that could leave Olson feeling trapped.
The Mick airs Tuesday nights at 8:30 p.m. on Fox. Watch clips and full episodes of The Mick for free on Yahoo View.