It’s interesting to note that NBC has been promoting the network’s new sitcom, Indebted with a promo asking “Guess Who’s Back” and then cutting to the laughter of Fran Drescher. That’s right, the “nanny” is back on network TV. I say it’s interesting since The Nanny was a hit show on CBS. However, her co-star was also on a hit show during that same time for NBC. Steven Weber starred on Wings, but they don’t talk about him at all. (Maybe that has do with his starring in the sitcom, Cursed (which was then re-titled The Weber Show) a few years after Wings went off the air.) Weirdly, the two play a happily married couple. A broke one, but happy.
The pilot for Indebted spends no time building up its premise for the show. In the first three minutes or so we learn that Dave (Adam Pally) and Rebecca (Abby Elliott) are finally cleaning out all of their closets and getting rid of much of their young children’s infant stuff. Since their kids are older now, they feel that they can make a reentry back into society. Then comes a surprise visit from Dave’s folks with big news.
After just returning from yet another extravagant trip, Stew (Weber) and Debby (Drescher) announce a sort of “coming out” message saying, “We’re here, we’re broke, get used to it.” To Dave’s surprise, Rebecca invites her in-laws to move in and stay as long as they like, but secretly, she’s hoping that the couple will refuse and find somewhere to move to. It doesn’t happen. Not happy with the situation, Dave and Rebecca resign themselves that this will be the new normal for the unforeseeable future.
The idea of having one’s fiscally irresponsible parents move in with you is an interesting one and Weber and Drescher do make an interesting couple. Both are free spirits who love wine and have a knack for saying the wrong thing. In comparison, Dave and Rebecca are a lot more reserved. It’s sort of The Odd Couple times two.
Written by Dan Levy, there is some funny stuff here. Like when Debby misquotes Nelson Mandela as saying “Hakuna Matata” or when she talks about how inspired she was by how actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin would do anything for their kids (without reading the rest of the article). But the show feels half-baked. There is a good show in here, but it is weighted down by a laugh track, clunky lines, a few gimmicks meant to raise eyebrows and over-the-top characters. Ironically, Stew and Debby’s characters seem natural. Odd, but natural.
Dave’s character is neurotic who can’t seem to say any line without over-exaggerating. He is also another victim of the classic sitcom staple: the stupid dad. In another episode of the show, the young couple discover that their son just might be “gifted.” Dave tells his wife that he was gifted too. She laughs of course. How could this stupid guy be gifted? However, the show balances that out by making Rebecca petty and proud that she isn’t a “reggo” – a “regular parent.”
And then there is the issue of Dave’s sister, Joanna (Jessy Hodges). It is as if her character was a late addition to the script and the writers didn’t know what to do with her. She is a lesbian (because every new show needs to contain at least on one) who feels that her brother is her parent’s favorite kid. Although she has also recently broke up from a long-term relationship, Joanna she just comes across as whiny. I’m not a hater. She just doesn’t add anything to the story. Neither does David’s childhood friend, Ravi (Asif Ali) who is given the show’s worst lines.
Despite its flaws, Indebted is not mean-spirited and has potential thanks to its great cast. There is a big question mark on how long the show will last though. It appears that NBC only ordered a half dozen episodes to try out to see if it can find its audience, which doesn’t speak of a lot of confidence in the project.
Indebted airs on Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. on NBC.
Main Image: Trae Patton/NBC
I write about arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.