Written by Alison Lips
Growing Up Fisher is a show your mom will love. It’s sweet without being saccharine, which is impressive considering it’s “based on a true story.” Contrary to everything that phrase usually suggest, Growing Up Fisher isn’t 30 minutes full of self-indulgent references only the writer’s family will appreciate.
Growing Up Fisher is about Henry Fisher (Eli Baker as the child-version, Jason Bateman as the adult narrator), who is 11 ½ and very smart for his age, and his family. His dad, Mel (J.K. Simmons), is blind, but doesn’t let that stop him from doing anything, even when it should. I think we can all agree a blind man should be teaching his daughter how to drive. Henry’s mom, Joyce (Jenna Elfman), grew up too fast because she had kids at a young age. Now that she’s divorcing Henry’s dad, she’s trying to relive her teenage years. It’s sad and is depriving her son of a responsible mother. The last member of the family is Katie (Ava Deluca-Verley). Unlike most teenage girls on television, she’s not bratty. She just doesn’t want her mother stepping on her toes. As it is, Katie has to play mother figure and sister to Henry.
The characters are realistic. They all make jokes about Mel’s blindness, but they aren’t cruel. Most of the jokes usually poke fun at someone, who can see, doing something that requires sight really badly and another person saying, “which one is blind?” Henry is the only character who initially seems a bit of a stretch, but he isn’t as mature as he presents himself. He becomes jealous of a guide dog because he felt his dad was replacing him. Considering Henry’s still a kid, it’s completely understandable and prevents the character from coming off as a kid genius, which Henry was in danger of becoming when he decided put a deposit down on an apartment so his father could move out of the hotel he was staying in.
The only problem with Growing Up Fisher, which admittedly is minor, is that it takes place in a time period that is a weird blend of the 90s, early-2000s, and the present. The show serves as a reflection on someone’s childhood and has an adult narrator, but there are references to Instagram and e-cigarettes. Then, there are the elements that are hard to place because the ’90s and the early-2000s blend together. However, those elements clearly aren’t from he present, such as the phrases Henry’s friend Runyen (Lance Lim) uses. If the show didn’t have an adult narrator, the mishmash wouldn’t seem so odd because it would seem like the writers were out of touch with today’s kids. Instead, it seems like they couldn’t decide which year they wanted the show be set in.
With Growing Up Fisher, NBC has a smart and touching show that wouldn’t seem out of place on ABC. The problem is NBC isn’t known for this type of sitcom, so it may have a hard time finding an audience. The good news for NBC is that even the most jaded cynic can appreciate the show; they just won’t be tuning in every week.