`Married to the Kellys' brands most of Americans as yokels

Fall TVPreview

October 03, 2003|By Tom Jicha | Tom Jicha,SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL

America is a nation divided, according to the thinking of those who make TV. There are the sharp, hip, sophisticated people who live in the major markets. Then there are the simple-minded hicks and rubes - anyone who doesn't live in a major urban center. A really major urban center. Illustrative of how TV thinks, a network executive once referred to Atlanta-based Matlock as "a rural show."

The latest example of this snobbish thinking, Married to the Kellys, is one of the most flagrant. The new ABC comedy focuses on a young couple, Tom and Susan, who relocate from New York City to a suburb of Kansas City. You've probably never thought of Kansas City as Bug Tussle - unless you work in TV - but Susan's people are portrayed as a bunch of yokels.

The family's penchant for doing things together is painted as if it is some kind of weird cult ritual. Some of their hobbies are depicted as if they suggest mental instability, and their spiritual beliefs are an excuse to amp up the laugh track. Goodness and decency are traits to be regarded warily.

Tom, a writer, promised Susan that when he sold his first novel, they could move anywhere she wanted. In his mind this meant perhaps leaving Greenwich Village for the West Side. Susan took a broader interpretation, planning a return to the heartland to be near her family.

Tom's body might be in Kansas, but he can't shake his New York state of mind. He's suspicious without cause of neighbors. He shops for New York pizza, New York cheesecake and rents the movie Manhattan. He doesn't get to enjoy them, however, because Susan has a night with the family planned.

Breckin Meyer, last seen in the deservedly short-lived Inside Schwartz, has another loser in Tom. Kiele Sanchez is an appealing Susan, who keeps Tom on "a need to know basis" when it comes to her family's eccentricities. Apparently they have been married a few years, but these two come across as virtual strangers, much like The Bachelor and the would-be partners he met last week.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

Premiere

What: Married to the Kellys

When: 8:30 tonight

Where: WMAR, Channel 2

In brief: Only a rube would buy this stuff

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