Why ‘Home Economics’ is going to be your new favourite TV comedy

Topher Grace is back on TV.
Published April 5, 2021 4:33 p.m. EST

Need a new show that’s going to hit you right in the funny-bone, but not in that laugh-track kind of way? Introducing Home Economics (premiering Wednesday, April 7 at 10 pET), the latest half-hour series to join CTV’s Wednesday night comedy block.

The show revolves around three adult siblings and their ongoing struggles, namely their financial ones. One sibling is barely holding it together, one is comfortably middle class, and the other is in that rare, rich-as-heck, one per cent.

Through all their problems, stresses, and big life-changes these characters learn that they all have one thing in common that will keep them together: family. Sound heartwarming? It’s supposed to. But this show is also supposed to be uncomfortable, revelatory, relatable, and a bunch of other feel-good things that may make Home Economics your new favourite TV comedy.

It’s got an all-star cast

This is the show that finally brings Topher Grace (That ‘70s Show) back to television, something he definitely wasn’t ready to do. In fact, the only way the script even came across his desk was because his agent ripped off the cover page and essentially tricked him into reading it.

“I was scared to go back to network television. It's not something I necessarily thought I would do,” he said recently during the virtual Television Critics Association (TCA) winter press tour.

In the series, Grace plays oldest sibling Tom, and Karla Souza (How to Get Away With Murder) partners as his wife Marina. They're repping the middle class in this family and in the pilot they grapple with finances after Tom, an author, fails to get any traction from his latest book.

They aren’t the only notable faces though. Caitlin McGee (Bluff City Law), as Sarah, is the sib who's struggling to make ends meet, along with her partner Denise played by Sasheer Zamata (SNL). Then in the upper echelon, there’s Jimmy Tatro (Modern Family) as Connor. To put the financial difference into perspective, the guy is so rich, he just purchased Matt Damon’s old home.

It fills the Modern Family void

One of the things that made Modern Family so successful when it debuted all those years ago was the way it wove together the story of three separate families who were all related. And of course they did it with that good ol' mockumentary style.

This series takes a similar approach, except it turns to narration by having Tom do voiceovers as he works on a new secret novel about his siblings. Another key difference is that, in this series, not everyone is as loaded as the characters on Modern Family were.

“When you look at those three families and how those stories intersect, you look at their houses, all of those guys are rich,” explained executive producer John Aboud. “They are not dealing with any financial troubles. They are set. So we wanted to do a family where there were different levels.”

“This is a family show,” added executive producer Michael Colton, who has been working with Aboud for years now. “John mentioned Modern Family, we've always seen that as a comparison.”

The struggles are real

When Colton was developing the series, he used the characters’ financial situations to make the show feel relatable to a wider audience than Modern Family did. During a global pandemic, when so many people have lost their jobs, been forced into leaves, or had their already-precarious situations exacerbated by the state of the world, a show that isn’t afraid to talk (and joke) about money feels relevant.

In the pilot episode, the struggles that all three of the siblings face are front and center, setting that idea up.

“[This] feels, of the things we've written, to be the most relatable,” Colton added. “Everybody struggles with money or struggles with siblings who need money. It seems like it's hitting a chord.”

This is a show that has legs

Although it seems like the pilot goes through a whole lot of story (as shows with so many characters typically do), there’s a ton of story to still mine. That’s because the series and the characters are loosely based on Colton’s real life. And yes, he has a sibling who suddenly became a millionaire while the writer was still figuring out his own next gig.

“As writers, we have good years and bad years, and [John Aboud and I] were in the middle of a particularly bad year where we couldn't get a job. I was actually collecting unemployment. And at the same time, I have a twin brother who sold a company for about $7 million,” Colton revealed.

“And then I have a sister who [does] social work and has never made money. It was just all of these feelings of anxiety mixed with pride, mixed with jealousy and insecurity, and we realized this has the makings of a show.”

It’s got a lot of heart

For all the talk of finances, at the end of the day, this is a comedy that’s about the complicated dynamics of family members that love one another, no matter what their current economic situation. Those threads are also very much present in the pilot, which will probably warm your heart (especially when the adults take off on miniature cars together, glasses of booze in-hand).

“The country is going through a very interesting time right now. You know, people within their own families are struggling, and helping each other out,” said McGhee. “At the core of our show, and in many families, is that—this sounds so cheesy—but love and support of family members is what gets you through."

"Having [these struggles] in this context, in a comedy, is accessible, but also [making] people laugh is super important in this moment. We need distractions, as well as to feel like we're being seen on television.”

Home Economics debuts Wednesday, April 7 at 10 pET on CTV. 

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