Considering the successful six-year run of Reba McEntire‘s sitcom “Reba” in the 1990s, it shouldn’t be a surprise that ABC is trying to resurrect its winning formula in “Malibu Country,” premiering tonight (Nov. 2) on ABC.
Once again, Reba plays a woman wronged by her cheating country-star husband (Jeffrey Nordling) and forging a new life as a single mom. In “Malibu County,” that means moving her family — two teenagers and her straight-talking mom, Lillie Mae (Lily Tomlin) — from Nashville to her husband’s fancy L.A. beach house and jumpstarting her own music career.
Put plainly, Reba says with her charming twang, “He’s a moe-ron and I’m leaving his lying, cheating butt.”
Ditzy neighbor Kim (Sara Rue) takes the place of “Reba’s” Barbra Jean (Melissa Peterman) — the ’90s sitcom’s aggressively friendly mistress. In “Malibu Country,” Kim, a trophy wife with a teenage stepson, serves as both redneck Reba’s foil and cultural mentor. Jai Rodriguez (“Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”) rounds out the cast as her agent’s sassy assistant.
If you like bold, intelligent, and carefully crafted comedies with well-rounded characters — “30 Rock,” “Louis C.K.” and “Modern Family,” for instance — “Reba” is not for you. The multicamera, laughtrack sitcom is completely unoriginal, the jokes are recycled and many of the characters — especially Reba’s obnoxious teenage son and daughter — are underdeveloped stereotypes.
Still, the charismatic country star and Tomlin’s droll Lillie Mae, who successfully balances her sharp tongue with surprising softness, are entertaining, and the honky-tonk humor should please both Reba fans and the audience of its lead-in, Tim Allen‘s “Last Man Standing.”
“Malibu Country” premieres tonight at 8:30 on ABC.