If Malibu Country feels a bit familiar, that's because it's strikingly similar to Reba, in that its titular star Reba McEntire once again is working with executive producer Kevin Abbott on a highly predictable multi-camera sitcom about a woman who starts her life fresh after learning that husband has cheated on her. I think that if this happens one more time to an audacious McEntire character, we all get a free sandwich.
So like a typical fish-out-of-water culture-clashing sitcom, Malibu Country follows Reba Gallagher (McEntire, natch) as she moves her mother Lillie Mae (Lily Tomlin, the highlight of the pilot) and kids Cash (Justin Prentice) and June (Juliette Angelo) from Nashville, Tennessee to Malibu, California, in an attempt to revamp her long-forgotten music career. It's there that Reba reluctantly befriends Real Housewives of Orange County archetype Kim (Sara Rue, forever known to me as Popular's Carmen) and her daughter gets chummy with her openly gay -- or is he, har har har -- son Sage (Hudson Thames). It's almost like Nashville without the drama, or interesting storyline, new concept or anything but the very fact that people talk in Southern accents... do I smell a crossover?
Seriously, though, my biggest problem with Malibu Country is the fact that it has no interest whatsoever in challenging the status quo, or making any statement outside the realm of "Isn't Reba sassy?" It's a few wacky child actors short of a Disney Channel sitcom -- particularly the scenes that involve Reba trying to be a big country music star again -- and if it were not for the free pass I'm going to give Tomlin's character (I am shamefully a sucker for a stoned grandma joke), I'd deem it unwatchable, especially to anyone who couldn't stand Reba back in its day. I understand that people connect with McEntire and she speaks to a certain type of culture -- not one I identify with, but obviously an underrepresented one -- and I'm sure they'll love spending their Friday evenings tuning into Malibu Country right after new episodes of Last Man Standing. For the rest of us, there are plenty of TV sitcoms on the air these days that don't feature an overexposed '90s-'00s sitcom star revamping their old premise with only the slightest bit of a twist.
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