A family sitcom about an overbearing mother, who babies her prized son, neglects the other and lives in immediate proximity to them both? Where have I seen that before? Sure they change the family from Italian to Jewish and the main character is single rather than having a family of his own, but there is no denying that this show screams a modernized version of Everybody Loves Raymond even if it is supposed to be a loose retelling of creators Mark Feuerstein and Dana Klein’s living situation during his work on Royal Pains. Regardless the talented cast had me intrigued and thus began a slow 16 weeks.
It may be slow but this doesn’t make it necessarily bad by any means, however, it just takes a long time to pick up any steam. The main story of season one revolves around the return of Josh Roberts (Mark Feuerstein) to apartment 9K greeted by his brother and his overbearing parents. The season sees Josh deal with re-entering the dating world all while trying to set boundaries for his intrusive, but well-meaning family.
The first few episodes of the season feel mind-numbingly dull as the premise is in full-force with Josh continuously clashing with his mother Judy (Linda Lavin). At this point the rest of the characters are one-dimensional, room-fillers to let the overbearing mother-son relationship take centre stage. The only development of note is his father Harry’s (Elliott Gould) extremely blunt and cringe-worthy remarks about things he should be keeping private. It was exciting when Tone Bell guest-starred earlier in the season. When it appeared that he may become a series regular, he soon disappeared. It seemed like this sitcom had already run out of jokes.
However, it is soon after this episode that the series starts to shift its focus, relying less on the mother-son dynamic and more on the family as a whole. The extreme behaviour of Judy is replaced with subplots involving Josh’s brother Andrew (David Walton) and his wife Eve (Liza Lapira) as well as including the severely underused bellhop Nick (Matt Murray). What comes from this is a dynamic more reminiscent of the successful family dramedy of Everybody Loves Raymond rather than a cheap parody that this show initially looked to be. Another thing worth mentioning was the great mini-Friends reunion with Christina Pickles (she played Judy Geller alongside Elliot Gould).
This season of 9JKL is a standard family sitcom that comes into its own as it learns to rely less on its premise and more on its strongest aspect: the cast. While it isn’t a gut-busting first season, the dynamic explored and developed through each episode creates a fun, relatable ensemble that brings an old concept into a modern setting. From the family themes to the realistic situations this show does have a lot of relatability so it’s definitely worth a watch. It might not be renewed, but it’s surely a good one-season show to binge through.
What did you think of 9JKL? Let me know in the comments!
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