It’s hard to review Life in Pieces because it’s very difficult to figure out what the show is aiming for. It seems like a bizarre mix of Louie and Parenthood that will end up pleasing no one.
The show’s concept is to show the life of an extended family in four separate stories in each episode. The device seems more confusing than interesting and the pilot episode did nothing to demonstrate what it could add comedically.
The first story in the Life in Pieces pilot shows Matt (The Newsroom‘s Thomas Sadoski) and Colleen (Enlisted‘s Angelique Cabral) trying to find a place to be intimate after a date, when both of their homes are occupied by other people. A recurring character played by Jordan Peele (Key & Peele) adds a couple laughs to this segment, but for the most part it’s cheap gags like Colleen being mistaken for a sex worker when they try to make out in their car.
Things got worse in the second story, which was about Greg Short (Fargo‘s Colin Hanks) and Jen (New Girl‘s Zoe Lister Jones) bringing home a new baby. This segment goes farther than most sitcoms do in really acknowledging the nitty-gritty of giving birth, but it all comes back to tired tropes. Despite talking about what Jen went through physically in graphic detail, the punchline is Greg’s mugging reaction when she makes a comment about how she doesn’t think she’ll ever want to have sex again.
The third story was about Tim (Veep‘s Dan Bakkedahl) and Heather (Breaking Bad‘s Betsy Brandt) dealing with their three kids growing up. In the same day, one kid visited a college for the first time, another found out that Santa isn’t real and a third got her period. All the reminders that her kids are growing up made Heather want to have a baby. None of this emotion was explored in an honest way. The opportunities were there for the comedy to come from character, but instead made jokes felt lazily inserted throughout.
In the final segment, all of these characters were brought together to attend to funeral of their father John (James Brolin) before the twist was revealed: he hasn’t died, he just asked to attend his own “funeral” as a birthday present.
This show is very willing to get macabre and strange, but then they never have any pay offs from what they set up. Underneath a lofty storytelling device and some attempts to be edgy, it’s the same old same old.