Dating back to the Little Ricky days on I Love Lucy, television comedy has rarely portrayed parenting with even a semblance of realism. Yes it's rewarding, but it's also physically exhausting, mentally draining, and rarely the laugh riot most sitcoms would have us believe. If all a first-time parent knew came from television, we wouldn't blame them for feeling like they were sold a false bill of goods.
That said, there's hope on the horizon for future generations, thanks to Peak TV and the emergence of several shows that manage to paint a more three dimensional portrait of parenthood, while still delivering laughs. Netflix caused a minor stir last year with two somewhat similar "mommy comedy" imports (The Letdown and Workin' Moms), and now FX is getting into the act with its new comedy Breeders.
Here's what you need to know about this new series that arrives with an impressive television comedy pedigree.
Martin Freeman and Daisy Haggard play Paul and Ally Worsley, a British couple in their 40s raising two kids of their own and a new baby that arrives along with Ally's dad Michael (Michael McKean). Paul works in an office but has aspirations of a writing career, while Ally runs a recording studio. As FX describes it, the series explores "the parental paradox," wherein it's possible to love your child to the edge of the universe, while at the same time being apoplectically angry enough to want to send them there.
The show's ten-episodes will see the couple dealing with crises big and small, although as anyone with kids can attest, sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. In one episode, Paul and Ally are secretly thrilled that Sprout the family gerbil has finally died, but explaining loss to their children proves more difficult than they thought as grief manifests itself in mysterious ways and throws the family off course.
Breeders marks a homecoming of sorts for Martin Freeman, who starred as Lester Nygaard in the first season of FX's Fargo. Freeman first rose to prominence for creating the role of Tim in the U.K. version of The Office, and went on to play Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson's Hobbit movies and Dr. Watson in Sherlock. Daisy Haggard is less well-known in the U.S., but will be familiar to audiences for her roles in Episodes, Black Mirror, I Give It A Year, and Back To Life, which she co-created. Michael McKean has appeared in everything from Laverne and Shirley to their modern-day counterparts, Grace & Frankie. He too is no stranger to FX, having appeared in 30+ episodes of Better Call Saul as Jimmy's brother Chuck McGill.
Developed by Britain's Sky TV and co-produced with FX, the show was first conceived by its star, Martin Freeman, who says it came to him in a dream that's recreated in the series' opening scene. His collaborators on the series include British comedian Chris Addison and showrunner Simon Blackwell, whose impressive TV comedy credits include Veep, Peep Show, The Thick of It, Monkey Trousers, and Avenue 5. Notably, the show's writers room was staffed by an equal number of men and women, all parents themselves.
The series premieres tonight with two back-to-back episodes beginning at 10:00 PM ET. New episodes will air weekly on Monday nights through April, with next-day streaming on FX on Hulu.
Omar L. Gallaga is a longtime technology and culture writer with bylines in The Wall Street Journal, NPR's All Tech Considered blog, Rolling Stone, The Washington Post, CNN and the beloved TV websites Television Without Pity and Previously.tv. He's a former newspaper journalist who now lives in New Braunfels, Texas. You can find him on Twitter @OmarG.