Third-episode verdict: Better With You

The CarusometerA Carusometer rating of 2

In the US: Wednesdays, 8.30/7.30c, ABC
In the UK: Not yet acquired

It’s a good job that the Carusometer is such a fault-tolerant instrument of detection. Were it not so robustly built, it would have passed a straight five on every episode of Better With You, thanks to the cringe-worthy studio audience that not only blots out all the jokes with its laughter, but forces the actors to over-act something colossal.

Yet Better With You is easily the funniest of this season’s new comedies. It’s very traditional: it’s multi-camera with, yes, a studio audience; it’s an ensemble of characters delivering one liners, with very few guest actors; the characters are largely thick as two short planks; most of the jokes are about well-trod relationship issues and make you feel like you’re still trapped in 1995.

But despite that traditional quality, it’s funny. The dialogue’s good, the cast are good, it can be quite sweet (episode two’s "firehouse vision scene", for example), it does touch on the occasional deeper topic (episode three, for example, hinges on a family Christmas card and whether elder daughter’s boyfriend of nine years qualifies as family or not because he’s not married to her) and it never veers into anything too vicious (cf Rules of Engagement). It’s just you have to survive all those traditional qualities to get to the funny.

I’m not sure I’d entirely recommend it, since there really isn’t that much new going on here. But it’s very likable and you are guaranteed laughs with it. What more should you ask of a comedy?

Carusometer rating: 2
Rob’s prediction: Will be lucky to last a season, but might surprise us all


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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