Oh Grow Up Review

Hollywood Reporter, September 22, 1999

Here's a different twist on the old sitcom about a bunch of single guys who hang out together. In Oh Grow Up, one of the guys is gay but remains best friends with the wife from whom he is separating, and another guy is located by the 18-year-old daughter he never knew he had. Sort of like Friends meets Will & Grace meets Roseanne's real life, only nowhere near as funny.

The ABC sitcom, the latest from the Greenblatt Janollari Studio (The Hughleys), is filled with so many one-dimensional characters and jokes about sex that when midway through the opener it tries to shift gears and deal with more substantial ideas, it falls completely flat. And while the show contains a few clever lines, the sweetened laugh track makes no distinction between them and the myriad clunkers.

Stephen Dunham, making his TV debut, plays Hunter, whose sole purpose seems to be to bed enough women to qualify for NBA superstar status. Even with their business cards, he has trouble remembering who they are. In real life, he is a therapist's dream and an epidemiologist's nightmare. On TV, he's a role model.

Hunter's roommates are Norris (David Alan Basche) and Ford (John Ducey). Norris quit his job as a medical supply salesman to devote all of his time to being an artist. His lack of success with his paintings is exceeded only by his inability to find female companionship. That makes him the normal one of the three.

Ford moved in after coming to the realization that he is gay. Except when she has had too much wine, Ford's wife Suzanne (Rena Sofer of General Hospital) takes the revelation with good humor and remains his close friend.

Then there's Mom the dog, whose barks become thoughts superimposed on the screen, a misguided comic device that serves mainly as a distraction.

If all of this seems an improbable setup, wait, we're not done. Midway through the opener, teen Chloe (Niesha Trout of Never Been Kissed) knocks on the door at night, asking for Hunter. There are the predictable "three-way" jokes before she reveals she is Hunter's daughter. Most men might ask for a DNA test or at least a birth certificate. Hunter, who supposedly operates a successful construction company, simply assumes it is true.

Considering the effort Chloe made to find her father, you might figure she is interested in establishing a relationship. You would be wrong. Initially, at least, she's mainly interested in dumping on him for not being there.

Director Andy Cardiff tries to get around the script weaknesses with exaggerated performances and feelings, but stretching this material too much makes the holes more apparent. This show will benefit from its The Drew Carey Show lead-in but suffer mightily by comparison.

--Barry Garron

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