TV Review: American Housewife Series Premiere on ABC

AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE - ABC's “American Housewife" stars Katy Mixon as Kate. (ABC/Craig Sjodin)
AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE – ABC’s “American Housewife” stars Katy Mixon as Kate. (ABC/Craig Sjodin)

Can we talk about American Housewife for a minute? More than that, really. This show. This show. This show that was formerly titled “The Second Fattest Housewife in Westport” before its named was changed (Thank the Lord) to “American Housewife.” I wasn’t even going to watch the show on principle solely based on the original title. And then the title changed and they reeled me back in. Because I knew what they were trying to do and I loved the discussion that it raised but I still didn’t like the message it gave right off the bat and the longevity that came with it. So. Needless to say, I was thrilled with the name change. Okay, so, moving past the name that I now absolutely love since it’s so much more representative of the show as a whole…

The show begins with our introduction to Katie played by Katy Mixon, whom I loved in Four Christmases and Mike & Molly. Katie’s neighbor across the street, Fat Pam is moving away. Apparently, Pam has had enough of the skinnies in town and is hitting the road. So with Fat Pam out, that leaves Katie as the second fattest person in the neighborhood. If you think fat people aren’t thinking about being the first, second or third fattest person in the room, think outside of yourself for a moment. It happens. For some of us, more often than others. Especially when it’s made evident that we are not like the others. It’s not a foreign idea. So. I don’t want to hear any complaints here.

“Is that one of those green healthy drinks?” – Katie
“Yeah.” – Taylor
“I will not have that in this house!” – Katie
“Dad, I’ll leave you to handle this.” – Taylor

AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE – “Pilot” (ABC/Eric McCandless)

So as we meet Katie and her family, we discover a number of things. First, they’re renting the house that they live in, amongst a sea of rich people who (not only) have bought their own homes (but probably vacation homes as well elsewhere). They moved to Westport because of the great school system and special programs, as one of their daughters, Anna Kat (Julia Butters) needs extra help. You do what you have to do for your kids and moving to a neighborhood that’s wonderful on paper still doesn’t mean that the move doesn’t come without cons and sacrifices. Been there. Only instead of the second fattest housewife, I was the second black student in my school. So I can appreciate this show as the minority in more ways than one. Anyway, I love how this show tackles the rich man mentality, housewives and stay at home moms and uppity “Westport moms” which can be found not just in Connecticut. It’s all so brilliantly conveyed here. I loved it all and I can’t wait to see the show poke fun at the ridiculousness of it all.

Back to Katie’s family! Katie and Greg’s kids are the oldest, Taylor (Meg Donnelly), the middle child, Oliver (Daniel Dimaggio), and the youngest, Anna Kat. Taylor’s awkward phase is finally over and now seemingly overnight she’s bloomed into quite an attractive young lady – not good news for any parent at this stage in the game. Anna Kat has OCD and anxiety, is a germaphobe, and has no friends. And then there’s Oliver, who wants to be rich and isn’t shy about being stingy so that he can achieve his ultimate goal of infinite riches. He doesn’t believe in giving handouts, he doesn’t have sympathy for others, he is selfish, and he’s basically you’re everyday privileged and entitled white guy who thinks he has all of the answers… in tiny human form. Scary but that’s the reality and these kids do exist. I love the complexities and the range in dynamic among the kids and as the middle child of three kids, I am especially looking forward to seeing more of the sibling dynamic.

Katie’s full time job, she says, is to make sure two of her kids fit in less (Taylor and Oliver) and one of them (Anna Kat) fits in more. I love how tender the storytelling is when it comes to motherhood. I love the balance in showing how precious and how painstakingly rewarding motherhood is. Mothers will obviously appreciate this the most though you don’t have to be a mother to enjoy this and be emotionally connected to this part of Katie’s life and identity.

“Was I really willing to let this happen? To welcome this racist homophobe to the neighborhood just so I could feel better about myself and my well nourished body? Could I do such a thing just to keep from becoming the second fattest housewife in Westport?” – Katie


So along with the everyday of being a wife and mom, Katie is also patiently awaiting the new neighbor. Oh wait, did I said patiently? No. The fat lady interested in buying the house across the street, who is fatter than Katie and would ease Katie’s self esteem, turns out to be a racist homophobe, particularly threatened by rich black people. If you think that’s not a thing, IT IS A THING. You’d be surprised by just how many people like this lady there are in real life. When you’re wealthy or wealthier than most AND black, that comes with a whole new level of racism. A whole new level. Oh my God. Don’t even get me started.

So who does the new neighbor turn out to be? A seemingly decent woman played by Leslie Bibb who we discover in less than two minutes that she used to be fat (just how fat is yet to be revealed) and wants to help Katie get to her best self just as she managed to achieved reaching her own best self. Ugh. GROAN. GROAN. GROAN.

Unsolicited advice and help DOES NOT HELP. People. Loved ones. Strangers. Everyone in between. I repeat. Your unsolicited advice about my weight, skin, etc… is not welcome. So quit while you’re ahead. Especially since nine times out of ten, you are not a certified nutritionist or doctor. Never do this. No. Just no. I’m gonna need Katie to set her new neighbor straight several times. She told her to have a seat once but something tells me this neighbor isn’t going to be easy to shut down. Health is so important, I cannot stress this enough. And you have no idea the mental state  that someone is in. Health is not just physical. It is mental. And mental and physical health are intertwined. So please, do not insert yourself as the savior in an overweight or obese person’s life because only the individual can save themselves. And if we want/need your council, we will ask. I’d take living another day over pride any day and I know many others who would/will do the same too so don’t just chalk it up to pride if your words of wisdom are rejected. It’s so much more than that.

All of this said, I am truly very intrigued by the new neighbor and cannot wait to see how her relationship with Katie evolves. There’s so much that can be touched upon with this relationship and I hope the writers face it head on. So far, the “You’re so real” dissection has been a particularly joyful and very satisfying moment indeed.


“I’m gonna love getting my hands on you.” – New Neighbor
“Excuse me?” – Katie
“I used to be a big girl. I can totally help you. We can go walk jogging together. You walk and then you run and then you walk and then you run…and then you just run.” – New Neighbor
“Yeah, not one part of that is going to happen.” – Katie

Finally, we meet Katie’s two friends, Angela (Carly Hughes), who is black and a lesbian (this representation is few and far between on TV) and Doris (Ali Wong). It’s very telling that Katie’s essentially only two friends are both women of color. In a good way. And I love it. Katie’s world is so grand, so cultured, so limitless compared to the people who can afford to have cultured lives but are not nearly as enriched as Katie and are more bound by society’s standards than their own. Which brings me to this.

I love that American Housewife embraces a woman who knows what world she lives in but refuses to let the world dictate how she lives and how her family is run. I’d like to think that this show is The Middle with a bigger message and I am totally on board for this. I was super nervous and very hesitant about this show before it aired but after the series premiere, I am definitely on board for the season ahead and am cheering the writers on for what’s to come. American Housewife is sharp and easily the most exceptional new ABC comedy this season. I hope it sticks around for a long time.

Watch American Housewife Tuesdays at 8:30/7:30c only on ABC.