Presidential Shenanigans at 1600 PENN
by Josh Hudson
NBC Thursdays has a new address: 1600 Penn.
The new comedy from Josh Gad, Jon Lovett, and Jason Winer is a cross between New Girl, Modern Family, and the Obamas. You know, if they were white and had a reality show or something.
Josh Gad stars as Skip, the eldest son to President Dale Gilcrhist, played by Bill Pullman. Skip is a quack. He’s clumsy, not all there, and is in his seventh year of college. Very Van Wilder-esque, yes, but Skip doesn’t resemble any of those suave characteristics outside of tenure post-high school.
Jenna Elfman stars as Emily Nash-Gilchrist, the first lady. She’s very chic, well mannered, and could easily be on one of those World War II posters campaigning for woman’s rights. She’s also the “evil” stepmother to the four children. Yes, Mr. President was a busy bunny pre trophy wife.
Becca, Marigold, and Xander are the other children. Becca is in her late teens. The good one of the bunch. Diligent, hard working, and always on her toes; some might call her a suck up or a brownnoser. That reputation goes down the crapper when she finds out she’s pregnant. Guess she’s a real kid after all.
Marigold and Xander are the youngest. Marigold is hitting puberty, while Zander is a few years younger. They don’t actually say in the show, but it’s a reasonable guess. Later, we find out they have a crush on the same person. Have fun with that one.
Much of the episode centers on Skip’s attempts at getting daddy’s attention. But he’s too busy with trying to close a national trade with some Latin American countries. Skip inadvertently intervenes, and for it to be comedic, he would have to blow things up rather awesomely. Or get drunk on tequila. That’s not stereotypical or anything.
Emily works on trying to connect with her stepchildren, first with Becca, and then with Marigold and Zander. Like most stepparents with their stepchildren, it doesn’t always go as planned.
I have to say; I was pleasantly surprised by this show. I didn’t really know what to expect, honestly. Pullman has been president before (Independence Day with Will Smith) but wasn’t really comedic. Elfman is a hilarious woman, but her shows don’t always hit, unfortunately. Gad is someone I’d never heard of until recently, and yet, he somehow got his own show on a national network. Clearly, we’re all doing something wrong, and he’s doing something right. The writing is quirky enough to entertain; childish enough to be delightful, and still sophisticated enough for the parental units to enjoy and have something to talk with their kids about.
Putting it on Thursdays is a bold statement by NBC. I’ll be watching. And hopefully others will follow.