Oh Grow Up Review

Extended family: Niesha Trout is the daughter
Stephan Dunham never knew he had.

USA Today, September 22, 1999

Appealing 'Grow Up' might be even better with age

I know what you're thinking: Oh, no.

Please, not another show about thirtysomething Peter Pans who can't mature.

Well, here's the surprise: Writer Alan Ball (who wrote the critically acclaimed American Beauty) has injected humorous new life into an old concept. Oh Grow Up won't overwhelm you, but it will give you a few laughs -- and that's more than can be said for most any other new sitcom this season.

Partly autobiographical, Grow Up is set in a crowded household headed by resident stud Hunter (Stephen Dunham) and best friend Norris (David Alan Basche), a grumpy would-be artist. They share their space with Mom the dog, whose thoughts we read -- a gimmick that leans toward the silly but isn't used often enough to be truly annoying.

The boys have recently picked up a roommate: Ford (John Ducey), an old friend who has just realized he's gay. The news caused him to leave his wife, Suzanne (Rena Sofer), ''because being gay and having a wife are somewhat incompatible. Unless, of course, you're a politician or a movie star.''

Tonight's crisis is set in motion by the arrival of Chloe (Niesha Trout). It turns out she's a teen-age daughter Hunter didn't know he had.

The men are an appealing trio who manage to be humorously nasty to one other without being unfriendly. They handle Ball's best lines adroitly, from the jokes about gay stereotypes to the running gag about straight men who bicker like married couples.

Perhaps because their roles are less fleshed out, the women hit their notes a little too hard (particularly Sofer, an attractive performer who needs to ratchet it down a notch). Still, that's not uncommon in a sitcom pilot, and it's often corrected later.

Turn down the volume and deepen the characters, and who knows -- maybe the show will grow on us.

 -- Robert Bianco

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