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ABC's Trophy Wife gets consolation prize for title character's winning ways


Bradley Whitford with conquests past and present. ABC photo

Premiering: Tuesday, Sept. 24th at 8:30 p.m. (central) on ABC
Starring: Bradley Whitford, Malin Akerman, Marcia Gay Harden, Michaela Watkins, Natalie Morales, Ryan Scott Lee, Albert Tsai, Bailee Madison
Produced by: Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Lee Eisenberg, Gene Stupnitsky

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Bradley Whitford and Marcia Gay Harden are the better known name brands in this one, but fresher, younger Malin Akerman is the selling point.

Whether debating the proper fruit metaphor for her two upsides or taking one for the team by chugging a water bottle full of vodka, she’s definitely the one to watch in Trophy Wife.

Akerman’s character, named Kate, is wife No. 3 for Whitford’s Pete, an attorney who rather unbelievably meets her in a nightclub after they accidentally bang heads and wind up in an emergency room.

“I always wanted a husband and family. I just didn’t expect to meet them all in one night,” says narrator Kate before Trophy Wife shifts to the present and her tumultuous new marriage.

Pete has fraternal twins by his first wife, Diane (Gay Harden), and an adopted six-year-old via second spouse Jackie (Michaela Watkins). Diane is a stern-faced doctor and Jackie’s a needy neurotic. The kids are Hillary (Giana LePera), Warren (Ryan Scott Lee) and Bert (Albert Tsai), a pint-sized scene-stealer who scores in Tuesday’s premiere episode by telling his babysitter, “You’re not even a real grownup. Your car is filled with garbage and shoes.”

Kate strives to bond with one and all in ways that facilitate a rooting interest in her. Pete doesn’t inspire much of anything so far, with Whitford not exactly a dynamic presence after going all out as a whacked-out cop in Fox’s short-lived The Good Guys.

Trophy Wife uses the “Hey, hey, hey” device in its theme “music,” copying directly from ABC’s Modern Family. It’s not nearly in that show’s league, though -- at least not now and likely not ever. Still, Akerman is reason enough to buy in for at least a few episodes. And if this doesn’t work out for her, she most assuredly won’t lack for future work.

GRADE: B-minus

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