Alibi V.26 No.2 • Jan 12-18, 2017 

Idiot Box

Bad Aunt

“The Mick” on FOX

“The Mick”

There is a certain school of comedy that contends that awful people doing awful things is funny. On the high end of that trend would be stuff like “Curb Your Enthusiasm” or “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” or Bad Santa. Somewhere in the middle is the the too-manipulative-to-care humor of Sacha Baron Cohen. At the very bottom are all manner of crappy hidden camera prank shows.

Given the longtime popularity of FX’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” the FOX network could be forgiven for hiring “Sunny” star Kaitlin Olson to helm its newest bad-taste outlet, “The Mick.” As Sweet Dee on “It’s Always Sunny,” Olson balances selfishness and goofiness in almost equal measure. In “The Mick,” she’s saddled with an unbalanced character and a mostly tone-deaf premise.

In “The Mick,” Olson plays Mackenzie, a.k.a. Mickey, a.k.a. The Mick. She’s a self-centered, unambitious, foul-mouthed party girl who starts off the show stealing a bunch of food from a grocery store, leaving a trail of destruction in her wake and drunkenly crashing at her estranged sister’s mansion in Connecticut. In a sitcom-worthy moment of coincidence, Mickey’s sister and brother-in-law choose that moment to flee the country due to massive tax evasion and other crimes. These awesome parents have basically abandoned their teenage daughter and two younger sons at home to fend for themselves. (There’s a stereotypical Latina maid, but she’s ready to run for the hills.) This leaves Mickey as the only “adult” on site to care for the kids. Hijinks, as you can probably imagine, ensue.

The “joke” here is that Mickey is an awful caretaker—the kind of person who thinks nothing of slipping the maid some powerful hallucinogenic drugs without her knowledge. Hilarious, no? No. The “joke” is further compounded by the fact that Mickey’s poor, parentless niece and nephews are a bunch of awful, stuck-up snobs. Basically everyone on screen is a hateful human being—except maybe the hapless youngest kid, who’s just there for “cute kid” laughs. As if there weren’t enough bad people to go around, the show drops in a nasty grandmother who may be the least sympathetic of the lot.

In the right hands, “The Mick” could have been an unapologetically dark black comedy. (Look to England’s “Peep Show” or Denmark’s “Klovn” for extreme and successful versions of that.) Despite all the sex, drugs and vulgar punchlines, however, “The Mick” sticks closely to classic sitcom formula, giving viewers 24 minutes worth of slapstick shenanigans and some painfully sentimental storylines. Oddly enough, the show is co-created by John and Dave Chernin, who are also behind the occasionally transgressive “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” Unfortunately, this midseason network outing doesn’t have nearly the cult potential of that long-running cable hit.

“The Mick” airs Tuesdays at 7:30pm on KASA-2.