The Cliched “Ben and Kate”
Ben and Kate is one of those shows that has been done in one form or another a million times. Kate is the responsible sister and single mother, who has settled down with her daughter to live as normal a life as possible. Ben is her annoying brother, who has never grown up and always arrives at Kate’s house unannounced with a problem. The dynamic is not original, but that does not mean the show has to be completely clichéd. The pilot episode seems to forget that even unoriginal concepts can be done in an original way. Anyone who has ever sat through more than one sitcom will be able to spot the obvious jokes before they come out of the characters’ mouths.
The pilot of Ben and Kate starts with a prologue from Kate’s point of view. It basically says what the audience picks up in the first 5 minutes: Kate grew up too fast because she got pregnant at a young age, whereas her brother never grew up and always ruins anything remotely adult. There are times when Ben acts less mature than Kate’s 5-year-old daughter, Maddie.
Kate and her British female friend, BJ, work at Buddy’s Bar & Grill, which is also the place Ben and his friend Tommy hang out. The bar seems to exist solely as a place to set up overdone jokes. Kate walks around wearing a fanny pack, which the guys and BJ hate. This results in a nasty, yet playful, exchange of insults between BJ and Kate. BJ asks her friend, “Do you know what fanny means in my country?” Kate retorts, “Do you know what BJ means in my country?” To which BJ just responds, “Very well, very well, indeed.” Once the girls are away from the boys, Kate refers to her desire to have sex with her boyfriend George as having “the sex” and says guys want to do her all the time. Of course, BJ feels the need to point out they are not going to have sex if Kate keeps on calling it “the sex.”
Ben picks up Kates daughter, Maddie, from school and reveals that he returned to town because his ex-girlfriend, Darcy, sent him an email that said “Call me.” Maddie does not understand why Ben did not just call, so he tells her that “you may be only 5, but you’re very naive.” Considering Maddie’s comment was an attempt to knock some sense into Ben, she is definitely not naive about her crazy uncle. Ben then pulls out a pair of binoculars and spies on Darcy from his car. He wants to curse, but does not because he realizes a child is in the backseat of the car. This results in Ben saying things like “Fa Fa la la” and “Shy-shy-shyster,” which shows that Ben does care about his niece.
Afterward, Ben goes to Kate saying he wants to crash Darcy’s wedding. He describes really elaborate plans that involve kidnapping Darcy, but also says they are “all up in the air.” Since she does not want Ben or Tommy to get arrested, Kate decides to help Ben crash the wedding. Her plans are much more sane and involve Ben objecting to Darcy’s marriage, yet they manage to confuse both Ben and Tommy.
At this point, Ben is not sure he will be able to successfully convince Darcy not to get married. Ben wants to tell Darcy that she broke up with him for good reasons, that he has not changed, that he is never going to change, and that Darcy is going to have to make some real sacrifices if she wants their relationship to work. Obviously, that speech will not work, so Kate tells him to tell Darcy, “Everybody deserves love, real love, so say you don’t love me. Say it, say it, look me in the eyes and say you don’t love me.”
Later in the day, Kate has a date with George and Ben plans to crash Darcy’s wedding. Things do not go exactly as planned, since after Kate leaves, Ben fires Maddie’s babysitter and has to take her with him. As Ben is driving, Kate accidentally butt dials him, which enables Ben to hear how Kate’s date is going. When Kate leaves the table to go to the bathroom, George calls another woman and says he loves her. Ben realizes that George is cheating on his sister. Ben drives to the bar and forces George to reveal the truth, which he does and then leaves the bar.
Now with George out of the picture, Kate, Ben, Tommy, BJ, and Maddie rush to the wedding. They find Darcy and Kate tells her Ben is a great guy, but Darcy is already married. For some reason, Darcy and her husband allow the group to stay for the wedding reception. Kate and Ben take the time to talk about his tendency to do stupid things. In a surprisingly mature move, Ben offers to move in with his sister and help take care of Maddie. In the end, Ben and Kate tuck Maddie into bed. It looks like Ben will stay with Kate for the long term and become a constant in Maddie’s life.
While Ben and Kate is not the most original show, it has the potential to be good. It will be nice to see Ben mature and take care of Maddie, but the only way he will be able to grow up is if Kate get better at preventing him from doing stupid things. No matter how interesting Ben and Kate gets the show will not be enjoyable until the writers get the standard sitcom jokes out of their system.
Posted on August 28, 2012, in Comedy, Fox, Network Television, Primetime and tagged ben and kate, ben fox, bj, brother and sister, fox, maddie, pilot, review, sitcom, tommy. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.
I agree that Ben and Kate doesn’t have the most original premise or even the most original jokes, but I think the majority of the cast is fairly likeable and talented. I’m planning to keep watching because in my personal viewing experience, pilots are usually the weakest episodes of any given show, especially when it comes to comedies.