“Trophy Wife” is one of the strongest comedy pilots of the 2013-14 season, but it may fall into the “Cougar Town” trap of not having a title that accurately conveys what the show really is. But the creators are aware and say that it’s meant to be ironic.
“We always meant [the title] to be ironic and when you look at he promos, I think that counterbalances a little bit,” says executive producer Lee Eisenberg.
The show follows the life of Kate (Malin Ackerman), news wife to Pete (Bradley Whitford), who brings two ex-wives and three stepchildren to their marriage. Executive producer Sarah Haskins says that the show springs from her own experience as a fourth wife.
“I have observed the [“trophy wife”] syndrome by being it. The show is loosely based on my life … one day I ran out of ideas, so I married my next-door neighbor, a man 20 years my senior, with ex-wives and lots of children. … We realized this is too good to pass up,” says Haskins.
She adds that it’s about “meeting [the new] family and trying to convince them you’re not some weird, extra fourth wife and you really want to be there and committed.”
One of the highlights of the show are the strong female leads — Ackerman as the titular character, but also Marcia Gay Harden as wife no. 1 and Michaela Watkins as wife no. 2. And it’s not a situation of cattiness or other female-heavy show cliches.
“We’re so lucky to have such incredible female leads … you’re going to get a full range. One things we liked about this show and always felt really important to us, there’s no villain in the situation of a blended family. All these parents are working together to raise kids and do what’s best for them,” says Haskins.
Eisenberg adds, “The things I latched on to, as a fan of comedy, are characters that are
relatable, jokes that feel smart and fresh and a lot of heart. … We have a lot of episodes that we’re working on now … where Kate and
Jackie or Kate and Diane are actually on the same team, there’s a common
enemy. We don’t want it to be … this isn’t a show we’re looking to do
where there’s enemies. I think it’s a challenge.”
The EPs also tease that Phyllis Smith (“The Office”) will be back after the pilot and that one of the stepchildren has been re-cast with Bailee Madison in an effort to have a stepchild character who falls between the older and younger stepsons in age.
“Trophy Wife” premieres Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.