‘The McCarthys’ Review: CBS’s New Family Comedy Is a Slam Dunk

Star Tyler Ritter is a breath of fresh air on the Boston-set series

Finally, a multi-cam series I can get behind.

CBS’s new comedy “The McCarthys” is well written and terrifically cast. Star Tyler Ritter is effortless in his delivery and grounds the comedy that can take family bonding to extremes.

Comedian, actor and writer Brian Gallivan created the show and has said it’s based on his life. It stars Ritter as Ronny McCarthy, an openly gay guidance counselor and square peg in his working class, basketball-obsessed Boston family.

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Ritter, whose father John Ritter‘s talents have certainly been passed down to, is joined by comedy vet and “Roseanne” star Laurie Metcalf as mother Marjorie; extremely accomplished character actor Jack McGee as father Arthur; New Kids on the Block boy band alum Joey McIntyre and Jimmy Dunn as brothers Gerard and Sean, respectively and Kelen Coleman as sister Jackie.

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The pilot episode seamlessly introduces the family’s tight-knit relationships and character personalities through their responses to two devastating pieces of news: Arthur’s assistant basketball coach has died and Ronny will be moving to Providence, Rhode Island for a new job.

What’s fascinating about the sitcom is that it certainly feels like a setup we’ve seen before on TV — with its archetypes on the non-sporty gay brother, clingy mom, tough dad, slutty sister and dumb brother — but they don’t behave in the ways we expect them to.

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The family is accepting, if not protective, of Ronny’s homosexuality. It bonds over TV — current and past shows — in a way that at least this writer and my working class family did growing up. They name check “The Good Wife” (network synergy!) and bemoan the cancellation of Kyra Sedgwick‘s “The Closer.”

It’s an aspirational way to look at society today as the world moves on and the way that we view families on TV has to, as well. Gesturing back to classic TV tropes and reflecting new values is a tricky (almost subversive) thing to do.

All that trumps the fact that it seems as if the actors’ Boston accents are all over the place and McIntyre has a way to go with his acting coach.

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But, as far as this fall season’s crack at making the multi-cam comedy a thing again, “The McCarthys” is all net.

“The McCarthys” premieres Thursday at 9:30 p.m. ET on CBS.

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