Matt Denby from WHO's popular TV podcast, Binge List, reviews the show everyone's asking about.
Australia doesn’t have a great record with sitcoms, with a string of painfully off-key bombs and laughless non-starters recently littering the commercial TV landscape.
But the good news is that Ten could be on a winner with Peter Helliar and Lisa McCune’s new vehicle, How To Stay Married – which debuts tonight on free-to-air and streaming.
Dealing with a married couple at a crossroads, the show immediately gets off to a very enjoyable start, with a string of chuckle-inducing observations about suburban family life. If you've ever eaten Mexican for breakfast, this is the show for you.
But don’t expect another Kath & Kim-style home run – there are plenty of bumps here that should have been ironed out early in the development stage, and an over-stuffed cast that could do with some nuancing.
Typically for Australian sitcoms, things start to go off the rails a bit when plot lines interrupt the run of observational jokes. Lisa McCune’s mum character Em decides to re-enter the workforce, and the gentle but biting family comedy established in the early part of the show dramatically changes gear into high camp absurdity – at times resembling Absolutely Fabulous on a very bad day.
As things go on, a lot of half-formed ideas make their way onto our screens, and there's a glut of personalities fighting for attention. This often left me pining for the simplicity – and laughs - of the show’s early family dynamic.
But complaints aside, it’s been a very long time since Aussie commercial TV got this many genuine giggles out of a new sitcom.
Helliar and McCune are naturally both on point, and some of the writing is incisive and clever - at times even verging on great.
I have faith this show can find its feet and do the impossible: get Australians to tune into a local commercial TV sitcom again. But there is plenty of work to be done before we have another classic on our hands.
Check out our full, fiery discussion of How To Stay Married on this week's Binge List (see below for details), and watch the show tonight at 9PM on Ten and Ten Play.