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<I>Melissa & Joey</i>: Aww, Poor Melissa and Joey

ABC Family tried their hand at capturing some of that Hot in Cleveland magic with last night's premiere of Melissa & Joey, a sitcom starring two '90s icons -- Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence. Like Hot in Cleveland, the show is hackneyed and miserably unfunny, but unlike Hot in Cleveland, at least I can't really say its scripts are beneath its stars.

That sounds unnecessarily harsh, and maybe it is, but I honestly can't think of anything better that these two actors would actually be suited for. Can you imagine Melissa Joan Hart pulling off legit acting on a show like Mad Men or House? Or even on something dopey like True Blood or Grey's Anatomy? I love Clarissa as much as the next twentysomething, but I honestly can't. Joey Lawrence is a bit stronger than Melissa Joan Hart in the acting department, judging from this pilot alone, but not by much, and they both seem so comfortable flailing around speaking in cartoonish, jokey voices that maybe they should just stay there.

The show also has one of those unfortunate political undercurrents that silly shows just embarrass themselves by including (think Brothers & Sisters' last three seasons). Melissa is a local politician from a long line of seriously screwed-up politicians (she's the current guardian of her niece and nephew because their parents are in federal prison, for example), and Joey is an out-of-work commodities trader who yells at her at a city council meeting and then worms his way into being her nanny. Which, OK, fine, this is farce, I'll forgive a little suspension of disbelief. It's just that the show doesn't need random outbursts of "Don't get mad just because I cut back on the city's sanitation budget to allow for smaller class sizes!" and "I hate my principal! She got rid of all the music programs due to a lack of budget for the arts!" and crap. It just detracts from the show and makes it seem sad in its aspirations to be something higher brow than a lame little family show, which is exactly what it is.

Then there are the jokes, and, more importantly, the laugh track. This show's laugh track is one of the most irritating things I've ever heard (like, Sports Night Season 1 level bad), both because it's constant and because nothing's funny. Like, there's this one part where Melissa's phone rings at the same times as her aid's and they both look at each other and go "It's yours!" and there's a huge uproar of laughter? I'm concerned that this show doesn't even know what jokes are, because there was ample evidence in the pilot that it does not. And for as toothless and family-grade hokey it is for 95% of the episode, have fun explaining a completely random cunt joke to any seven-year-old you may be watching this with! Woof. What is this show?

Did you watch it? Tell us what you thought in the comments!

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