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Fox's Pivoting looks like part of network TV's sitcom comeback

  • "Not too long ago, things looked dire for the genre — NBC didn’t even bother to put a single comedy on its fall primetime lineup — but CBS’ Ghosts, ABC’s Abbott Elementary and NBC’s Grand Crew have proven to be reliable sources of laughs already this season," says Dave Nemetz. He says that Pivoting, starring Eliza Coupe, Maggie Q and Ginnifer Goodwin, is "a low-key hangout comedy bolstered by a very strong trio of lead actresses and an irreverent energy that helps lighten up a very heavy topic," adding that it has "a tricky tone to pull off, finding the comedy in such a brutal tragedy, but showrunner Liz Astrof (2 Broke Girls) manages to squeeze laughs out of the grieving process with a chaotic, quick-witted tone and heavy doses of gallows humor. The three ladies hold a wine-soaked makeshift memorial at their friend’s gravesite… and then realize they’re whooping it up at the wrong grave. (It’s kinda like A Million Little Things, but a lot funnier.) The show allows these women to be substantially flawed and messy, and it resists the urge to get too mopey and maudlin. Plus, their banter is fun and snappy, in the vein of Coupe’s Happy Endings. If you’re still holding out hope for a Happy Endings revival one day — like I am — this might be the next best thing while we wait."


    • Pivoting is the perfect pandemic-era sitcom -- even though it avoids the pandemic: "COVID-19 doesn’t seem to exist in the world of Pivoting, but it doesn’t have to for the show’s premise to ring true to life as we now know it," says Caroline Framke. "While the idea of seizing the day is nothing new, reevaluating your life and direction in light of a loved one’s death is, to say the least, a pretty relatable concept right now. For creator Liz Astrof to tackle that scenario, not to mention through a comedic lens, is a sharp and timely idea for a series, even if it’s not entirely clear what that series could look like further down the line." Framke adds: "In the first three episodes, Pivoting largely sticks to keeping Amy, Jodie, and Sarah on their three distinct paths to happiness, with Amy finding her own version of maternal instinct, Sarah forging a new path after leaving medicine and her cheating wife (Frankie Corzo), and Jodie … squeezing on tiny skinny jeans to feel hot for her trainer. (Jodie really needs some stronger material and the stretchy gift of athleisure, stat.) But the best moments of Pivoting are the ones that bring all three friends crashing together, which brings out the best in the writing and acting both. Should the show get more time to develop — and it should, based on these early outings — it would be smart to lean on the women as a trio as much as they lean on each other."
    • Pivoting's premise of starting out with a funeral distinguishes itself from other hangout sitcoms: Its premise adds "a sense of structure and direction as well as an edge of melancholy — which, as CBS’s recently departed The Unicorn also demonstrated, goes down pretty smoothly combined with a dash of irreverence," says Angie Han. "When the trio visit Coleen’s grave in episode three, they take turns reminiscing about her appetite for sex and giggling over the time she did something borderline inappropriate with a churro, and it rings truer and sweeter than any flowery platitude ever could have. But as with most half-hour comedies about friend groups, Pivoting‘s core appeal hinges on its ability to convince us both that these people really seem like friends, and that we would like to spend time with them. On that front, it’s a solid success if not yet a soaring one. The leads trade quips in the snappy rhythm that, on scripted TV, conveys longstanding familiarity. Coupe is especially sharp, bringing some of the physical expressiveness and offbeat intensity that made her such a consistent delight on Happy Endings, though Goodwin and Q more than hold their own as well. It seems a safe bet the chemistry between all three will only continue to grow stronger as the series proceeds and supporting characters like Amy’s patient husband Henry (Tommy Dewey) or Coleen’s widower Brian (Colton Dunn) come more to the forefront."
    • Pivoting is a perfect example of the importance of getting casting right: "Sometimes a comedy is more about casting than anything else," says Brian Tallerico. "The truth is that writing can always shift to match performers, but a bad ensemble usually isn’t going to ever find the right rhythm. The art of comedy is all about timing and chemistry, and writers can’t fix that when a casting agent got it wrong. This is why we see so many shows that stumble out of the gate but click when the writers room figures out how to maximize the talent in front of the camera. (Look at the first seasons of 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation for great examples of writers shifting to play to the strengths of their cast.) So, I’m forgiving of the somewhat mediocre first episodes of FOX’s Pivoting, a new comedy that clearly wants to be a network version of Sex and the City, a show about female friends stumbling their way through life. While the writing is inconsistent, the trio of actresses are incredibly likable, already convincingly selling both their friendships and individual characters. I’m curious enough to see where they go, and just hoping that the writers figure out where to take them."

    TOPICS: Pivoting, FOX, Eliza Coupe, Ginnifer Goodwin, Liz Astroff, Maggie Q