House Husbands

Resevoir Dads? ... House Husbands

What’s it all about:

Four Melbourne dads who are, for various reasons, the stay-at-home parent are brought together in a school playground and so begin an intertwined existence of toddlers, transport and twisted dramatic situations.

Ultimately, this is enjoyable, entertaining and looks to have the right mix of slapstick, pathos and one guy wanting to shag another guy's daughter to make for a show that is somehow bigger than its celebrity cast. 

Our view:

House Husbands.

Could look wrong, works out right ... House Husbands.

Well they’ve only gone and done it. One of the prime complaints lobbed at the commercial networks of late – and at Nine in particular – was that they kept producing the same dramas. Tricky Business to Underbelly, even the extraordinarily successful Howzat!, all were accused, if sometimes cynically, of being just a copy of another Australian drama.

At first it seemed House Husbands, from the trailers, might be more of the same same-ness. What we got instead was dramedy, a genre the networks seemed almost clinically terrified of. Sure, it’s broad appeal dramedy - the edgier variety will still be housed exclusively on ABC and SBS for the time being – but this is good, it’s progress, it’s ... different.

Judging from Twitter last night, audiences weren’t quite sure what to make of the show, but that’s half the charm isn’t it? A show that you can’t summarise the entire series’ plot after only seeing 5 minutes, surely not? Plus it appeals to the topic matter – family is funny and dramatic, often at once. Sure the combination means you get some heightened reality moments like the runaway bus – and the rather unlikely response and fall-out – but scripted entertainment is just that, scripted. So as long as the entertainment is on board, the bus can go on all sorts of unlikely journeys.

Besides, at least it’s not another cop show.

The combination of (traditionally) comic actors and serious thespians made for a great chemistry, exemplified by Gary Sweet and Julia Morris’ relationship. On paper the pairing looks at best like a mediocre skit, but the reality is dynamic and ... well feels like a genuine marriage, only watchable. It's easy to imagine these two bickering at a barbecue and then smooching embarassingly in front of the kids. Sweet somehow even makes sense as the dad who fixes ceiling plaster while his daughter makes her play lunch.

It was also nice to see a series sow a variety of seeds for storyline options without trying to harvest them all at once. Gyton Grantley’s Kane is in a same-sex relationship, yet we heard more about his pie business than his secret men’s business. Firass Dirani is excellent as the affable AFL reject, yet clearly it’s the rejection by Leah de Niese’s Abi that we’re going to see more of ... along with more of Firass. Plus one suspects the kids have more plots to hijack than that bus.

Ultimately, this is enjoyable, entertaining and looks to have the right mix of slapstick, pathos and one guy wanting to shag another guy's daughter to make for a show that is somehow bigger than its celebrity cast.

In a sentence: Dramedy! Like the young AFL draft-pick, let’s support this young prospect trying to find a spot in a line up of formulaic fossils.  

Best bit: The pie summit mid teacher hunt.  The scripting took what could have  been a pretty daft distraction and made it a lot of fun.

Worst bit: The bus might have been overblown, but it was fun and pacey. Rhys Muldoon’s Mark on the other hand got to have a first day at work that was both under-nuanced (if everyone hates him why is he there?) and unlikely (the running gag of not actually getting to work ran out of steam).

Next episode: 8.30pm Sundays

Ratings:  1.38 million, topping the night.

Worth watching again: Very much so, if only for Firass Dirani’s derriere which clearly is the star of next week’s episode based on the trailer, media attention and other trailer.

Grade: B for boys-own parenting made funny (but not cheap)

How would you grade House Husbands? Answer below or join the conversation on the Essential Baby Forum.