Life in Pieces had been on my radar for quite some while. However, it also wasn’t really quite high on the list of things I wanted to watch. So it sat there for a while. Recently, my friend watched the show and reviewed it (here’s the link!). She thought it was a decent enough comedy show. I figured, if she liked it, then I’d probably like it too. So on December 30th, my siblings and I sat down to binge watch the show.
The format of a show, showcasing four different stories within a larger connected family, was one that I immediately associated with Modern Family. As such, my expectations, going into the show, were that it would sort of be like Modern Family, wherein each individual adventure would eventually be tied up into a larger adventure with the entire family. Surprisingly, Life in Pieces didn’t go down that route. Instead, the show stuck of showing four, unrelated ‘pieces’ (LOL) of the various family member’s lives. In other words, we just got like little shorts of their lives (ironic because the name of the family in the show is Short). On that note, the show revolves around the members of the Short family, consisting of the retired former pilot father, John Short, the therapist mother, Joan Short, the oldest daughter and stay-at-home-mom, Heather Hughes and her doctor husband and three children, Tim Hughes, Tyler, Samantha, Sophie Hughes, the middle son, struggling artist Matt Short and his girlfriend Coleen Ortega, and the youngest son, Greg Short and his lawyer wife and newborn daughter, Jen Short and Lark Short. Also, unlike Modern Family, Life in Pieces isn’t filmed as a mockumentary, its filmed as a general tv show.
Each episode deals with an issue the various family members face. So, for example, one of Greg and Jen’s ‘shorts’ dealt with them coming to terms with childbirth and the changes that result, such as sex. On the other hand, one of Heather’s shorts focused upon her family and her having a contest to see who generated the least amount of trash. However, the shorts also aren’t just limited to nuclear family members, as the individual stories do include a mix of members. In one of Heather’s shorts, she is angry at her son’s decisions to forgo a college education and Matt plays a pivotal role in reconciling her to that fact. Similarly, in one of Matt’s shorts, he is forced to invite his parents to his valentine’s day dinner with Colleen. Sometimes, like Modern Family, the show also has shorts that include the entire family. Hence, the mixup is always kept interesting.
That said, the show does have its fair amount of drawbacks. One of the biggest drawbacks for me, is the consistency of the comedy. This criticism actually also relates to one of my biggest likes from the show as well. Life in Pieces has some incredibly, incredibly funny scenes. I mean, there’s scenes that had my siblings and I rolling on the ground from laughing too much. However, there’s also a fair amount (far more than the funny scenes) of boring scenes where nothing happens. Well actually, stuff does happen, but its not funny or that enjoyable, just passable. Secondly, sometimes the show has a tendency to use cliche tropes, such as the protagonists forgoing an event in order to spend time with a lonely person. They don’t really detract from the show too much. But considering what a stellar cast this show boasts of, I think the show should aim higher and terminate cliche usage. I mean, Colin Hanks, James Brolin, Betsy Brandt, Thomas Sadoski, Dianne Wiest, Zoe Lister-Jones, Angelique Cabral and Dan Bakkedahl are hilariously talented. There’s so much more the writers could be doing with them.
On that note, their characters themselves aren’t also something new. They’re quite recognizable cliche types in quite a few aspects. Also, the content matter of the show also ranges. Some stories are definitely rated R (there was a scene where Greg has to insert a cold ice-filled glove into Jen’s vagina to sooth her post-childbirth) while others are a solid G (there’s an episode dedicated solely to Sophie’s inner monologue). Personally, I didn’t quite mind it, but if there are younger kids around watching, I’d definitely be a little cautious. On top of that, the stories themselves also range, from being somewhat realistic and believable to being completely weird, random, and unexpected. Though that might be more of a positive than a negative.
Personally, I quite enjoyed the show just because of the sheer strength of the comedy scenes. I mean, there’s not a ton of comedy scenes, but whenever there is one, it always kills (in a good way!). That’s actually one of the main reasons my siblings and I continued watching. Similarly, I actually quite enjoy watching the more outlandish moments that happen in the show. For some reason, I think they work really well for the show. Although, that might just be because the cast is so good at acting and pulling off even the most weirdest scenes. Nonetheless, I’m happy that the show has been renewed for season two and quite excited to see what happens next!
My rating: Watch it if you’re bored and want a decent-enough comedy show to watch.