“Guys with Kids,” NBC’s new sitcom set in a mythical version of New York where no one locks apartment doors and people are fine with babies in bars, has its sneak peek Wednesday, Sept. 12.
The half-hour sitcom then settles into its regular time slot two Wednesdays later. It isn’t fantastical the way “Grimm” is but rather conveniently mythical the way Hollywood likes life, with incredibly nasty ex-wives walking all over spineless men and kids running roughshod over befuddled parents.
Though a knee-jerk reaction would be that this is inherently sexist — why should it be funny just because males are minding the children? — the show is neither incredibly funny nor offensively sexist, and it has promise based on one of the couples.
The strongest is Tempestt Bledsoe (the all grown-up Vanessa from “The Cosby Show”) and Anthony Anderson (“Law & Order”) as Marny and Gary. She has a corporate job while he minds their four sons.
“I think Marny is very much in love with her husband, her children,” Bledsoe tells Zap2it. “She is very passionate about wanting to have a happy home. Gary is staying home with the children. Who is best equipped to do this when you have four kids? She wants her kids fed, bathed and in bed every night.”
Bledsoe has been on TV since her years in the iconic comedy.
“I have done a lot of guest spots,” Bledsoe says, listing “The Practice” and “Raising the Bar,” but “not a half-hour [comedy] in a while.”
There is a difference between starring and guest starring on a show, she says.
“It is your house rather than being a guest,” she says. “It is a great schedule and great to be in front of a live audience. There is no substitute for taking off in flight in front of a live audience.”
She does expect some viewers to be surprised that she is an adult.
“I was telling Jamie-Lynn Sigler, we are both frozen in people’s minds,” Bledsoe says of her co-star, who played Meadow on “The Sopranos.” “This is the first time you will see us as mothers to children and lovers to our husbands.”
Sigler plays Emily, a stay-at-home mom married to Nick (Zach Cregger, “Friends With Benefits”). He has a job outside the house but helps with their school-aged daughter and baby son.
Nick’s college buddy is Chris (Jesse Bradford, “The West Wing”). He has a baby son and a nasty ex-wife, Sheila (Erinn Hayes), who gives control freaks a bad name.
The pilot begins with three guys watching a game in a bar, and when their team scores, they chest-bump. When they turn around, they all have babies strapped to their chests. It is cute, especially when they use the babies to high-five.
The idea for the series came about, says Jimmy Fallon, when he was talking with fellow “Guys” creators/executive producers Charlie Grandy and Amy Ozols about a show focusing on the dad version of hot moms.
“It’s not really about what a drag it is to have kids,” Fallon says via satellite at a press conference. “It’s more like, ‘I’m bringing the kid to the baseball game, and I forgot diapers. How do I make a diaper out of a hot dog wrapper and a napkin?’ “
And it’s likely that somewhere, at some game, diapers have been made out of less. Though Gary is a full-time stay-at-home dad, it was not clear in the pilot — which was undergoing a cast change at this writing — how much Chris, a lawyer, was home.
“I think they use each other to help each other with problems and live life,” Fallon says. “So it’s like it is a group of friends. There’s power in numbers. I mean, you could be in the worst mood, but when you have friends with you and people supporting you around you, you can get out of rough situations. So I think it’s fun to have all these guys together every week, and they go like, ‘So what’s going on with your life?’ ‘Oh, well, I’m thinking of getting a car.’ ‘Oh, really?’ ‘I’m thinking of getting a tattoo,’ or whatever it is. I don’t know if that’s going to be a show. But I think what makes our thing is it’s multicamera. It’s very funny. It’s very positive, and there’s a group of people all together dealing with those problems.”
When Gary and Marny try to carve out some private adult time — so what if it’s in the bathroom and a kid is banging on the door? — there’s a sweetness many parents will recognize.
For Anderson, it’s also making good on a childhood crush. He says publicly that he had a crush on Bledsoe when she was playing Vanessa.
Later at a private interview, Bledsoe laughs about that and says, “He says that. Everyone loved Lisa [Bonet, her ‘Cosby’ cast mate]. He would have to be out of the box to see how lovely I would be.”