'Bless the Harts': TV Review

Give it four more episodes.
9/29/2019

The pilot doesn't really tell you much about Fox's new animated series other than it has a lot of stars and it's not 'King of the Hill.'

It'll probably work.

That seems like the best thing to say about Fox's Bless the Harts, a new animated series about a North Carolina family that's "always broke and forever struggling to make ends meet." The show looks to be going for either "endearingly dumb, broke Southerners" or King of the Hill without Hank and a legacy of greatness.

You can't get the latter after one episode, so it's probably the former. And, honestly, there's probably not going to be another King of the Hill, because Mike Judge just absolutely nailed the larger themes of family, the South, funny vs. dumb and, well, lots of other things.

Created by Emily Spivey (who wrote for The Last Man on Earth and Saturday Night Live and created the short-lived Up All Night with Christina Applegate, Maya Rudolph and Will Arnett), Bless the Harts doesn't allow you to draw much of a conclusion from the one episode sent in advance to critics (per dumb network tradition).

On the plus side, it has a star-studded cast in Kristen Wiig, who plays Jenny Hart, a single mother working as a waitress, and Maya Rudolph as Betty, her "lottery scratcher-obsessed" mother, who thinks memes are pronounced "me-mes" and who prints said memes out on a dot matrix printer in the house. Rounding out the show is Jenny's daughter, Violet (Jillian Bell), who draws graphic novels and, as a teenager, seems mostly annoyed at everyone else. Wayne (Ike Barinholtz) is Jenny's longtime boyfriend who seems really, really dumb but sweet. Kumail Nanjiani plays Jesus.

And... that's kind of it. The pilot has Jenny scrambling to pay her bills, particularly her water bill, which is about to be shut off. One bill she can't quite place turns out to be a secret storage unit that Betty has been renting to store kitschy, flammable retro toys called "Hug N' Bugs" that reference obscure cultural touchstones. Sensing a huge e-Bay demand, Betty's been stocking them up and maybe that will save the day?

That's pretty much the plot, with the addition of a lot of Southern voices. It's not particularly funny, but then again it's only the pilot. It's not bad, either, it's just... an animated thing that Fox did and those turn out, for the most part, pretty well after a while. This one just kind of sits there for 30 minutes, pleasant but not particularly funny as it sets up the Hart family. Lots of comedies get better after four or five episodes. It's your call. 

The downside to Bless the Harts not exactly lighting things up in the pilot is that the one thing it does do is make you want to watch King of the Hill. That's an upside for viewers who may not want to wait around every week to see if Bless the Harts improves, since they already know King of the Hill is a classic. 

Created and written by: Emily Spivey
Voice cast: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Jillian Bell, Ike Barinholtz
Executive producers: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Premieres: Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET/PT (Fox)