Written by Allison Lips
What do you get when you take Rebecca Howe and Carla Tortelli from Cheers and add Kramer? TV Land’s latest attempt at capturing the magic from sitcoms’ past. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t work.
In Kirstie, Kirstie Alley plays Madison Banks, a narcissistic Broadway star, who gave her son up for adoption, so that she could pursue her career. Her assistant Thelma Katz (Rhea Perlman) is rough around the edges, which would be fine. However, Frank Baxter (Michael Richards) has those same qualities and threatens to kill anybody he doesn’t like. As for Maddie’s son, Arlo Barth, he’s pathetic. We’re supposed to feel bad for him, but Arlo’s awkward, sweats a lot all the time, and decides to move in with his biological mother a day after he meets her. Every character is unlikeable.
To make matters worse, the jokes seem forced and are predictable. Maddie and Thelma constantly reference Maddie’s promiscuity. When Maddie takes a football player out, she says “I’m wide open, you can take that however you want.” She also doesn’t know who Arlo’s father is and says it could be practically anyone, but then realizes she conceived him during her run in Jesus Christ Superstar. That means Arlo’s father can’t be any one of a number of men because there are only 12 apostles. Isn’t it funny? Maddie’s a whore!
There’s also the fact that Maddie’s alcoholism is played for laughs. She has “juice” for breakfast. She hands Thelma a flask every time she asks for tea. The characters and the writers probably think this is charming. Viewers will find this disturbing. If Maddie was a real person, her friends would be trying to get her in Alcoholics Anonymous.
When not in her own world and ignoring her recently found son, Maddie doesn’t know how to deal with him. He surprised her and it shows. That’s understandable. It’s not understandable that Maddie will only tell Arlo the truth after all her lies have been exhausted. Then to make it up to Arlo, she will protect him when it’s convenient for her to play mother.
Kirstie has three major problems: it’s a sitcom with stale comedy, it has unlikeable characters, and it only has had one plot, even though two episodes have aired. The show is a throwback to a time it would have failed in.
In the end, Kirstie airs on TV Land. No one’s expecting them to break new ground. The channel’s trying to create the TV equivalent of chicken soup. Everyone does it differently, but it’s always comforting. Instead, TV Land makes viewers wish the network could figure out how to make I Love Lucy profitable at 10 o’clock at night.