Libby and Malcolm
Logline: Two polar opposite political pundits fall in love despite all odds and form an insta-family as well as a work partnership.
Cast: Felicity Huffman, Courtney B. Vance, Caitlin McGee
Creators: Kenya Barris (W / EP), Vijal Patel (W / CoEP), Felicity Huffman (EP), Courtney B. Vance (EP), E. Brian Dobbins (EP)
Studios: ABC Studios
As I tracked the pilot scripts getting picked up to filming, this one had the logline that I thought was the best. It has diversity, it has politics, it has family dynamics. You can just picture the episodes making up a 22 episode first season. But would the pilot live up to the premise?
In voiceover, we learn from both Malcolm and Libby that they think the country is screwed, completely divided in a way that’s unsustainable. Malcolm is a liberal, Libby is a conservative. They are debating on a tv show, then making out in a bathroom, then married before the Cold Open is even over.
We learn that Malcolm has three children — two boys, one girl — from his first wife, who is sadly deceased. Besides adjusting to a new mom, the kids have to adjust to a move to a new state (California), and the parents have to adjust to a new show they are co-hosting — Black & Wright (their respective last names). By the end of act one, Libby has got the best of Malcolm in their first segment together.
Act Two has Libby gloating, a lot of anxiety over school picking, Malcolm defeating Libby in a segment on the show, and the kids picking their own school and explaining their disgust in how their parents communicate. By the end of the episode, everyone’s made nice and the differences of opinion will have to wait until the following week.
This pilot in some ways lived up to its strong logline. We get some nice back-and-forth, the necessary change inherent in a pilot (new marriage, new job, new location), a nice feel good conclusion. I did feel a little let down though.
I didn’t like the idea of pairing up Libby and Malcolm on a tv show together. Their differences of political opinion are at the heart of the show, but by putting them together on a show, you have that always playing out in the same venue. Why not have Libby be a politician and Malcolm be a Chief of Staff or Head of Communications for someone across the political aisle? Or vice-versa? Or how about they’re both lobbyists? And why move the action to Los Angeles? We already get upscale Los Angeles on Modern Family and Black-ish. Would it have been so bad to set this show in Washington DC?