Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fran Drescher's Happily Divorced: Don't Get too Close; Splitsville is Likely

There are many good one-liners in Fran Drescher’s new TV Land sitcom, Happily Divorced, but it’s a one-joke show that doesn’t veer far from “I married a gay man and why didn’t I notice during those first 18 years?”  

It’s funny, but how many times can you refer surprisingly to the personality traits of the ex-husband, Peter (John Michael Higgins)?  He loves show music, interior design, skin creams and he’s a hypochondriac.

There’s a lot about this program that reminds me of the far more original Will and Grace, but Happily Divorced does not have that very strong cast and the writers are about half as good – from what I’ve seen, so far.

The pilot begins six months in the past when Higgins’ character announces he’s gay.  Fran takes it incredibly well, which I find hard to believe.  Drescher lived this scenario in real life (with ex-hubby Peter Marc Jacobson); how can it be so funny to her?  

It’s also a little pathetic that when the plot returns to the present, hubby is still under the same roof where the two live as roommates visited often by her parents (Rita Moreno and Robert Walden), her assistant in the floral business run from the garage (Valente Rodriguez) and a friend (Tichina Arnold).  Neither has moved on, attributed to the fact that Peter isn’t making any money as a real estate broker.

And, I can't figure out how, though the show is set in Los Angeles, they all sound like they're from Queens.

Still, Fran Drescher (despite her still-alarming voice) is funny.   There is chemistry (for what it’s worth) between she and Higgins (who is straight) and the cast is full of seasoned veterans.  In fact, Rita Moreno gets in one of the best lines: "Sweetheart, don't throw away a good marriage over nothing."

It’s not The Nanny, but the one great thing Happily Divorced has going for it is that it follows Hot in Cleveland, which airs immediately before it at 10:00 p.m. on WednesdaysTaken together, the two programs are good for a laugh.

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