‘Mad About You’ Reboot: What the Critics Are Saying
It’s been over 20 years since the NBC sitcom Mad About You aired its final episode. Viewers tuned in for the show renowned for its classic banter between stars Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt, who played married couple Paul and Jamie Buchman.
Now joining the reboot craze, the comedy is launching its own reprisal on Spectrum later this month and reviewers are weighing in on the series’ return.
According to Entertainment Weekly, the premiere finds Paul and Jamie in 2019 in their same sprawling apartment, preparing to send off their only child, daughter Mabel (played by Abby Quinn) to New York University. While this renders the couple as ‘empty nesters,’ their daughter is living in the dorms just five blocks away.
Where the original series focused on Paul and Jamie’s journey through marriage and starting a family, the Mad About You reboot highlights their new stage where they are still parents but need to readjust to their lives outside of their daughter.
New but not new
Some critics feel the reboot is same old, same old. Not introducing any groundbreaking new material, some reviews portray the returning series as rehashing already trodded ground.
“Mad About You is essentially the same show now as it was when it existed in the 1990s, only now Paul and Jamie are older, a fact the show attempts to address in meta fashion in its opening scene,” Kaitlin Thomas of TV Guide wrote. “The revival’s biggest offense is simply feeling like a relic of a different time. And it doesn’t help matters that it appears to be recycling plot points from the original series… Like so much else about the show, the episode goes for the lowest and most obvious jokes without elevating them or providing any insightful commentary.”
Other critics were a bit more on the fence, saying the reboot could be worth a try… maybe. “Should you watch? If you were a fan of the original show — and you have Spectrum cable, which is the only place to find the revival — then… I guess?” Kristen Baldwin of Entertainment Weekly wrote. “Seeing Hunt and Reiser, along with [Richard] Kind and other original cast members… is mildly heartwarming. If you’ve finished all your other binges, if there’s nothing good on TV, if you’ve got a pile of laundry to fold, then sure. Why not?” While these comments may not be a ringing endorsement, they also don’t shut the door on the opportunity to give the show a few episodes.
Embracing the familiar
The main stars of the show revealed that their banter is like picking up right where they left off. “It was as if no time had passed,” Hunt shared, according to Parade. “I think we are very committed to saying what we think and really listening to the other person [and] trying things out. You know, you’ve got to make a room that is safe enough for people to throw out good ideas and bad ideas. I hope we have done that.”
Some critics seem to appreciate the nostalgia of the sitcom. The chemistry between Reiser and Hunt remains strong, with the focus of the show being on the couple rather than the bigger societal issues that other reboots seem to have taken on, which seems to be a positive for reviewers.
“It is by its nature unoriginal, and it has little, really, to say about its moment — while most recent reboots have drilled down on aspects of politics in the late 2010,” Daniel D’Addario of Variety wrote. “But in allowing its characters to float unaffected through a soundstage version of lower Manhattan, it feels easygoing, at least.”
The Variety critic notes that while there may be nothing earth-shattering in the series, it’s definitely worth the time investment to go along for the ride. “Is it groundbreaking? No. But the story is solidly enough built to distract from certain annoying contrivances of sitcom-making that would be less present today, perhaps,” D’Addario wrote. “There could be far worse company for some half-hour stints, and there have certainly been companions who’ve aged less well in their time offscreen. Mad About You stayed itself, for worse and better; by the standards of the modern reboot, that’s accomplishment enough.”
Mad About You premieres on Spectrum on November 20.