‘The Harper House’ Review – The Hollywood Reporter

It takes just a few episodes for the Harpers of The Harper Home to get used to the Harper Home. The Paramount+ animated comedy facilities on a previously “reasonably rich” household compelled to maneuver right into a decrepit residence on the poor facet of city after go-getter mother Debbie (Rhea Seehorn) loses her engineering job. For sure, it’s an adjustment for the household, who’re unused to going with out luxuries like nation membership memberships and wanting to return to their previous lives as quickly as humanly potential.

However the collection itself takes some time to get comfy in its personal pores and skin as effectively, with episodes that waffle between random humor, feel-good earnestness and light-weight satire with out going fairly far sufficient with any of them. Ultimately, it settles right into a quirky-sweet groove within the vein of Schitt’s Creek or Bob’s Burgers — although it’s not fairly ready, at the least within the 5 half-hour episodes given to critics for evaluate, to differentiate itself amongst that pack.

‘The Harper Home’

The Backside Line

Candy comedy affords extra potential than payoff — for now.

Airdate: Thursday, Sept. 16

Forged: Rhea Seehorn, Jason Lee, Ryan Flynn, Tatiana Maslany

Creator: Brad Neely

Creator Brad Neely crafts the Harpers’ world in vivid colours and clear traces, that are complemented by Mark Mothersbaugh’s bouncy rating. It’s an inviting place, even when the precise Harper Home is designed to look, as one character places it, like an Addams Household set — full with not one however two shriveled corpses, because the household uncover, to their horror, within the first episode.

On the head of the household is Debbie, the sort of relentless and upbeat entrepreneurial spirit who’s positive she simply wants one “Shark Tank-level concept” to get her household again to what an indication baldly describes as “The Richer, Higher South Facet of River Creek.” In distinction to Seehorn’s different present TV position, Higher Name Saul‘s buttoned-up Kim Wexler, Debbie wears her each emotion on her sleeve. However Seehorn brings to Debbie an analogous bluntness that makes her inconceivable to dismiss, whereas permitting herself to go greater and broader with Debbie’s kooky hot-mess tendencies.

Debbie has the loving assist of her stay-at-home husband, Freddie (Jason Lee); perpetually clad in a pink polo shirt and an ungainly bowl minimize, he’s such an affable pushover that he does his youngsters’s chores for them. These children are Todd (Ryan Flynn) and Ollie (chameleon Tatiana Maslany, sounding fully unrecognizable right here) — twins, finest associates and polar opposites. Todd’s supercilious and delicate, aptly described by one classmate as a “junior Professor Snape,” whereas Ollie is so unflappably upbeat that considered one of her lecturers asks if she’s on medication.

The youngsters attend Redline Elementary, which isn’t the present’s first or final jab on the distinction between the Harpers’ previous, rich white neighborhood and their new lower-middle-class, racially numerous one. Freddie, particularly, is written as a white man who desires so desperately to befriend his “cool” (learn: Black) neighbor Gbenge (Gary Anthony Williams) that Gbenge has to inform Freddie to cease treating him as a token. Acknowledging a problem isn’t the identical factor as avoiding or fixing it, nonetheless. At the least in its first handful of episodes, The Harper Home doesn’t have a lot to contribute to conversations round race and sophistication past recognizing that they exist.

At worst, these awkward makes an attempt at social commentary detract from the present’s true strengths, that are its gentleness and silliness. Whereas too lots of The Harper Home‘s gags really feel a draft or two away from their most attention-grabbing selves, every episode incorporates at the least a few surprising laughs. One in all my favorites is the storefront signal of Debbie’s dad’s awnings retailer, which is named A New Day Is Awning and incorporates a drawing of a solar wanting completely forlorn at being blocked out.

The storylines, too, turn into extra entertaining the additional they lean into escalating absurdity — as in an episode three plot whereby Freddie units his sights on a pair of sweatpants he desires to reward Debbie for her birthday, setting in movement an elaborate plan that includes disguises, false identities, and probably the dissolution of another person’s relationship. In the meantime, Debbie’s unrelated misadventures with an unlawful meals truck finish in a Thelma & Louise reference. It’s one of the best installment of the bunch. That all of it ends in a second that’s equal components touching and disgusting appears to be Harper Home at its most totally realized.

For the second, although, Harper Home is extra potential than payoff. In equity, the buy-in is fairly low to start with, as there are worse methods to spend half an hour than making an attempt out a breezy adult-ish comedy. The collection reveals sufficient sparks of life to counsel it might but develop right into a sharper, extra distinctive present because it fleshes out its peripheral characters and begins layering its jokes on high of each other; alternatively, it’s a bit too bland proper now to face out as appointment viewing from a crowded streaming menu. Pop in for a go to, in case you’re curious. However be warned that it could take the Harpers a while but to make their home a house.

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