‘Odd Mom Out’: TV Review
Comic author Jill Kargman plays a version of herself in Bravo’s new series about the spoiled denizens of Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
The target is a small one, but author and actress Jill Kargman’s aim is consistently true in this quick-witted sitcom adaptation of her 2007 book Momzillas, which skewers a certain type of blue blood Big Apple resident. To be sure, Odd Mom Out’s Jill Weber (Kargman) isn’t quite the spa-loving, Bergdorf-shopping, Pilates-practicing gal that her neighbors and family are. She’s a bit more of a privileged punk, sporting a wrist tattoo and tossing off salty quips between taking care of her loving lawyer husband Andy (Andy Buckley) and their three rambunctious children.
It’s because of Andy, anyway, that she has such an up close and personal view of the Manhattan gentry. Andy’s mother, Candace (Joanna Cassidy) and his brother, Lex (Sean Kleier) are the epitome of spoiled affluence, both born into money, obsessed with making more (Lex just closed a nine-figure deal bringing bagels to China) and intent on taking advantage of all the perks that come with a life of easy luxury. Lex’s wife Brooke (Abby Elliott) is similarly in thrall to the pleasures and benefits of the almighty dollar, and even her body appears to know it. One of the best jokes in the premiere revolves around how, even at seven months pregnant, Brooke barely shows a bump.
Jill’s method of dealing with this cloistered world involves a lot of sarcasm and self-deprecation, much of it bounced off of her snarky best friend Vanessa (K.K. Glick), as well as a few steps inside the circle of entitlement whenever the opportunity presents itself. She’s both appalled observer and shameless participant, and Kargman, playing a variation on herself, clearly relishes exploring that divide. She may frequently roll her eyes at the spoon-fed tastes of these simpleminded aristos (“No bread!” they scream at waiters in a particularly hilarious running gag), but given the chance she’ll gladly go for a makeover at a high-end day spa and trill to the tenuous results at the expense of everything and everyone else.
The ongoing joke is that she always comes back to her senses, advantaged though they may be. Even with Andy’s cog-in-a-machine attorney job, Jill and her family are still six-figures strong, and the tension between seeing that as lifestyle-sufficient or as a hole to climb out of provides for much pointed comic fodder. The major recurring plotline in the first three episodes sent out for review (ten installments have been ordered in total) centers on Jill’s attempts to get her kids into a tony private school. Kargman, a kind of Upper East Side Shelley Duvall, shows off her considerable physical and verbal comic skills as she exasperatedly deals with shade-throwing socialites (guest star Dana Ivey is especially adept with the withering glances) and application deadlines that require both constant cell phone access and cross-town hand delivery of the paperwork.
Her sense of humor is so specific and expertly realized, not to mention superbly complemented by each supporting cast member, that it’s often easy to overlook how fish-in-a-barrel the show’s objects of ridicule are. (Many among the NYC upper classes are self-absorbed, flaming a-holes? You don’t say.) Regardless, Kargman’s intimate knowledge of this elite universe always feels grounded in first-hand experience, and the laughs are frequent and genuine. So, congrats, one-percenters — you have a Louie to call your own.