Fox’s newest “comedy” is a celebration of negativity, cynicism, and disturbingly inappropriate content.
Fox kicked off the New Year with a new “family” show, The Mick – a series about an obnoxious, abusive alcoholic and con artist who ends up caring for her three spoiled, entitled, and unbelievably bratty nieces and nephews.
Airing Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT (only 7:30 p.m. Central/Mountain), The Mick centers on Mackenzie “Mickey” Murphy, an irresponsible, thoroughly obnoxious, foul-mouthed, alcoholic ne’er-do-well who crashes a party at her sister’s affluent suburb, originally intending to sponge off her relatives – only to be forced into raising her rich sister’s spoiled kids, when the sister flees the country to avoid a federal indictment. The kids are snotty teen drama queen Sabrina; Chip, an arrogant, entitled neo-conservative 13-year-old (in Hollywood, nothing is more abhorrent than conservative values); and seven-year-old nerd Ben.
Fox’s own publicity for this alleged “family comedy” boasts that The Mick is “a no-holds-barred comedy that gives new meaning to the phrase ‘dysfunctional family.’” Trailers for the program showed Mickey using little Ben to promote drinking alcohol (“Champagne is the classiest way to vomit,” Mickey notes); making New Year’s resolutions to “drink more” and “get the last 4 digits of my nephew’s social”; and creating an ad campaign with T-shirts labelled “#KidsAreDicks.”
Over the course of the first episode, which premiered January 1st, Mickey drugs Sabrina during a drinking contest; advises Chip to humiliate the school bully by “ripping his pants down and pointing at his tiny pecker” (when Chip follows the advice, the bully beats him up, with Chip remarking his penis “was humungous – I’m lucky he didn’t beat me with THAT!”); and teaches Ben to steal ice cream by starting fires nearby. The kids routinely use words like “bitch,” “ass,” “dick,” and the like – another example of broadcast TV’s tendency toward Trash-Talking Teens.
If anything, the January 3rd episode was even worse. During an opening scene in a restaurant, Chip obnoxiously dumps the food off other diners’ tables, calls them losers, then throws money at them in an attempt to buy his way out of the consequences of his actions; Sabrina calles Mickey a “lying bitch;” and, on a dare from Chip, Ben licks the hot grill, injuring himself.
Deciding she’s had enough, Mickey abruptly abandons the kids, stealing Sabrina’s car in the process. The children’s abusive grandmother takes over – and routinely and repeatedly slaps Sabrina and hurls hot coffee in her face, while forcing Chip to bathe and serve as nurse to her comatose husband. Mickey drugs her new friend, the children’s former maid Alma, and the two engage in a round of drunken, drug-fueled carousing, until Mickey is confronted by a brutal loan shark who beats her boyfriend bloody. This sends Mickey running back to the kids, to sponge money off them. The grandmother slips in a pool of Ben’s drool, breaking both her hips, while Alma is left prisoner of the loan shark.
Along the way, the viewer is treated to dialogue like, “You can smell my ass when you kiss it goodbye;” Mickey’s ex-boyfriend telling everyone he meets, “We’ve been plowing it for 10 years;” and Sabrina screeching at her grandmother, “You ruined my blouse, you wrinkly bitch!”, and the grandmother replying, “Your blouse was ruined by your inability to fill it out.”
This is a further example of the Fox broadcast network dragging the style of its allied cable network FX into prime time. FX has long defined itself as the home of “extreme” TV, with shows like American Horror Story, Sons of Anarchy, Nip/Tuck and others. But while FX shows were invariably rated TV-MA (mature audiences only) and aired after 10 p.m., now Fox is “pushing the envelope” by putting the same content on a publicly-owned broadcast network, airing it at 7:30 p.m., and rating it appropriate for 14 year-olds.
Last year, Fox brought Ryan Murphy’s series Scream Queens, an ultra-graphic, gory, sexually explicit and profane “comedy” similar to American Horror Story, to broadcast TV. Emboldened by that action, this year it’s airing The Mick, which is essentially a rip-off of the FX show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The Mick even stars Kaitlin Olson, who plays Sweet Dee on It’s Always Sunny, and is written by Sunny writer John Chernin. (That John Chernin is the son of former Fox CEO Peter Chernin is, surely, just a coincidence.)
Given the show’s content, a TV-14 rating seems inadequate at best, outright lying at worst. Even the Los Angeles Times agrees that the program is “a shallow exercise in provocation…not enough to overcome an unfortunate tendency to mistake vulgar excess for subversive humor,” and states that “This is one of those shows that probably ought to come with a ‘don’t try this at home’ warning.”
For those who enjoy seeing kids get slapped in the face, kids calling their aunt the b-word, and a teenage girl trying to drink her aunt under the table, but failing because the aunt has spiked the liquor with drugs, The Mick is the show to watch. Others may find it a show to avoid…while wondering why it is on the publicly-owned airwaves to begin with.