Guys With Kids: TV Review

NBC buys a skit, will regret it.

NBC's new series, produced by Jimmy Fallon and starring Anthony Anderson, Jesse Bradford and Zach Cregger, follows three guys raising young children.

Here's the most troubling thing about NBC's comedy Guys With Kids, and it doesn't even have anything to do with the woeful content: NBC is just blindly guessing. That's not to say that other networks aren't giving the greenlight without confidence, but looking at NBC's fall lineup, you can't help but think the drama and comedy development teams took the first pitches they were given.

That's not how you turn around a sinking ship.

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In the case of Guys With Kids, NBC listened to one of its own stars -- late-night host Jimmy Fallon, who basically pitched them an image. If you're being generous, he pitched them a skit. In turn, it became a half-hour sitcom. If you're worried that's a stretch that won't stay together, you're not alone.

Fallon has said that part of the idea for Guys With Kids came from a visual joke: three guys watching a basketball game at a bar, with their backs to the camera. There's a last-second victory, and they all raise their fists in triumph, then turn around to reveal that each is wearing a Baby Bjorn.

That's pretty much the show. Guys raising kids. Isn't it hilarious to imagine that men wouldn't actually be the breadwinners of the family and would instead raise the kids? Nobody's ever heard of that in 2012. Can you imagine these Cro-Magnons being forced to live their "guy lives" while saddled with the albatross of a baby? Hilarity ensues!

Well, maybe it did at the pitch meeting. Maybe NBC couldn't say no to Fallon. Maybe they thought the Baby Bjorn sight gag was awesome. But you can't repeat that over and over for 30 minutes, 22 episodes a season. But that's what Guys With Kids will have to do. It's a one-note joke. See, the dads, they are overwhelmed by the responsibility of the kids. They are harried. They are tired. They feel put-upon. They feel a bit emasculated.

Has that ever been filmed before? Probably not. Oh, wait, it has? Three Men and a Baby was 1987?

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See, that's the problem with Guys With Kids. Well, one of the problems. Fathers taking care of their kids is not unique. Their problems doing it are not original. No matter how the three male stars (Anthony Anderson, Zach Cregger and Jesse Bradford) play their plight, it never garners more than a smile at best because it's so patently not unusual. In fact, it's less funny because the pretense that it should be unique is insulting. It's 2012, not 1955. 

Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Tempestt Bledsoe and Erinn Hayes get to wear the pants, but even that's not particularly funny. Think about how strange that is -- Mom's working. Hi-larious! What's really funny (in a sad, sad way) is that NBC is so desperate for anything that funny people like Fallon pitch, it can't seem to say no to what is obviously a limited-potential series. Guys With Kids is a series that works on paper but not in the pilot. It's a show that should never have been put on paper to begin with.