Review: ABC’s ‘United We Fall’ Doesn’t Reinvent the Comedy Wheel But Delivers Fun

UNITED WE FALL - Parenting can be tough. Throw some overzealous extended family members into the mix and chaos will undoubtedly ensue. Join the ride with the latest addition to ABC's comedy slate, "United We Fall," set to premiere with back-to-back episodes on WEDNESDAY, JULY 15 (8:00-9:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC. (ABC/Brian Bowen Smith) IRELAND AND SEDONA CARVAJAL, CHRISTINA VIDAL MITCHELL, WILL SASSO, ELLA GRACE HELTON, GUILLERMO DIAZ, JANE CURTIN

ABC’s newest family comedy series “United We Fall” had its long-awaited premiere after initially being ordered to series in May of 2019. This isn’t the first time a holdover from the regular season has made its debut in the middle of the summer. What’s surprising is that ABC decided to air it this summer instead of banking the episodes for the fall in case productions are not able to get back to filming due to the ongoing pandemic. FOX decided to hold dramas Filthy Rich and Next for the fall instead of airing them over the summer. 

The multicamera comedy series focuses on Bill and Jo (Will Sasso and Christina Vidal) a couple with young children who have Bill’s mother Sandy (Jane Curtin) living in their home. In the pilot episode, Bill and Jo are awoken abruptly by their daughter who asks for her tablet so she can look at pictures of mummies. The two tell her to go back to bed and discuss her quirks and question if they are bad parents (“Probably!”). As they attempt to go back to bed, the daughter then wakes up the young baby and Bill jumps up to deal with the crying. In the morning, they watch the sun rise, get the kids breakfast and Sandy tries to push her parenting style onto the kids. Bill and Jo are not having any of it. After trading barbs, Sandy storms off. We then learn that Sandy moved in two years ago when she was sick. She got better, and never moved out!

We then meet Jo’s brother Chuy (Guillermo Díaz) who makes fun of Bill and Jo for any flaws he can find which bugs Bill and Jo and makes Sandy light up in agreement. Bill and Jo head out and meet up with their daughter’s teacher, fearing the worst. The teacher tells them their daughter is unique but has potential. She tells them she reminds her of a former student who went to Harvard. Bill and Jo get really excited, only for the teacher to tell them he died in an avalanche, chilling the mood.

The two leave the school and invite Chuy and Sandy to have wine and brag about their daughter having so much potential. As they are bragging, the daughter bursts into the room with a medical emergency. Jo throws her glass of wine on Bill, and they rush off to the hospital. At the hospital, the doctor informs them that it will resolve on its own. Bill and Jo crack a few jokes, which worries the doctor and has him call a social worker to meet with Bill and Jo. As they explain their history, the social worker becomes concerned. Jo has had enough of it and tells her that she hasn’t experienced life and has no idea what it is like to be a parent. After her impassioned speech, the two storm out of the room, only for Bill to walk back in and roll their child’s stroller, which they have accidentally forgotten, out of the room.

They return to their daughter and the doctor gives them the all clear to take her home. Bill and Jo give her a stuffed penguin and as she’s ready to go, she appears to have made friends with another child in the room. Bill and Jo’s faces light up, happy to know their daughter has made a friend, and they bonded over her love of mummies! Not wanting her new friend to be all alone, she gives her new friend the stuffed penguin. Bill and Jo get emotional.

On the way home, Bill and Jo reminisce on how life is “so weird”. They decide to be grateful and feel blessed for all that they have. At that very moment, a cop pulls them over, smelling the wine which Jo threw on Bill and not buying their story. Bill does a sobriety check and unintentionally insults the cop, leading Jo to offering to drive them home for everyone’s sake. They finally make it home as the sun is rising yet again and as they walk in the house, Sandy greets them with an extra chipper “Good Morning!” to which Bill and Jo tiredly say “good night.” and slowly walk up the stairs carrying their children.

In the second episode of the double premiere, the family has to deal with their daughter biting another child at her new preschool. The fallout of the incident leads Bill and Jo having to deal with escalating follow ups with the teacher and parents of another student. They lose their minds a bit not understanding how any of this was happening, leading to them bonding with their daughter’s teacher.

A few weird editing shots and stylistic choices in the pilot episode distracted certain scenes but didn’t impede with the overall flow of the episode. Some jokes were flat, but others that follow with callbacks throughout the episode made me laugh. United We Fall is a harmless, run of the mill, multicamera, family sitcom which is easy to watch. I can see why ABC held the series as it doesn’t necessarily fit with their other family sitcoms as much, but it does follow the “bad but actually a good parent” style of ABC comedies like American Housewife and Modern Family.

United We Fall airs on ABC Wednesday Nights at 8/7c. You can stream new episodes the day after on Hulu.

Lee Arvoy
Lee Arvoy joined the TV Source team in the summer of 2020 as a TV Writer.

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