‘The Family Tools’: A Show About Daddy Issues in Need of a Jiffy Fix

Credit: Mitch Haaseth/ABC

ABC’s newest family comedy is a bit of a fixer-upper. Actually — I take it back. There’s no way Family Tools could ever be fixed in a jiffy. This show might just be beyond repair.

Take one part bumbling-ne’er-do-well son, one part dysfunctional family, two parts workplace drama, and mix it in a blender with your diversity-mandated stock characters and volia! You have the bare bones of Family Tools. Garnish with daddy issues, religion, or health problems of your choice. The show starts out simply enough: son Jack (Kyle Bornheimer) comes home from seminary school (just one of his many attempts at finding a career, apparently) following one of his father’s numerous heart attacks to take over the family business, Mr. Jiffy Fix. For a show that’s all about fixing stuff, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher as to how and why they forget to fix the actual show before putting it on air. But as the saying goes: you can’t put a square peg into a round hole.

Real talk: Family Tools just isn’t very good. Sorry! Not to be a negative Nancy about stuff, but it truly is warranted. Family Tools is missing one too many parts and has way too many screws loose. I mean, it’s so not good, it has me talking in clichés! A word of advice: when attempting to create a family comedy (just like oh, every other show on ABC), it helps to have at least something that makes you interesting and engaging.

That’s not to say the people on the show are bad actors: far from it. Bornheimer is a delight, but seems to only ever be cast in middling drivel such as this. J.K. Simmons, who plays family patriarch Tony, is also a regularly reliable comedic talent. The problem lies at the heart: a sloppily-written show with a milquetoast premise that somebody, somewhere thought was zany. 

But zany it is not, as the show’s believability factor is surprisingly low for such a simple premise. I mean, to ask the audience to accept that actress Leah Remini could possibly pass as Bornheimer’s aunt — the two actually have an age difference of only five years in real life — is straight-up odd, and feels far from organic. Was this right-place, right-time casting? Sure, OK, it’s certainly feasible for there to be a 15 year age difference between siblings. It’s been known to happen! But without a little context or explanation, the casting choice is a real head-scratcher.

There are jokes about stripper moms, sexually aggressive coworkers (yes, always hilaaaarious when someone calls their sister a slut just for showing interest in a guy. Man! The a-hyucks just keep comin’), more than one reference to the cereal Fruit Loops as a euphemism for gay people, go-karts, yoga jokes, dudes in skirts, a FLUTE JAM SESSION, and even an appearance by Jo Koy, just to round out this mangled mess of a pilot.

So, do you think I enjoyed Family Tools? No, shock of all shocks, I most definitely did not. My advice to ABC? Just let it die: it’s probably what they’re is hoping for, anyway. But in the end, it’s up to you, viewers, to make or break this junked up van of a show. If you’re into lowest-common-demoniator humor that appeals to the lamest of Middle America and will in turn be the downfall of society, be my guest.

What did you think of Family Tools? Let us know in the comments.

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