There are a handful of new sitcoms on TV this season – but none quite as charming and wonderful as Ben and Kate. Dakota Johnson is Kate, an adorably awkward & awkwardly adorable single mom to Maddie (played by Maggie Elizabeth Jones, the cutest child actor since Jerry Maguire’s Jonathan Lipnicki). Nat Faxon is Ben, Kate’s older brother, a verbose jester with a heart of gold, who moves in with Kate and Maddie to help out. Rounding off the cast is Kate’s self-centered but completely endearing best friend, BJ (played to perfection by Lucy Punch) and Tommy, Ben’s childhood best friend and right-hand man, who is (not so) secretly in love with Kate. Tommy is played by Echo Kellum (who may very well be the MVP of the show for his facial expressions alone).
It’s this cast that makes the show so enjoyable – their line readings are priceless, Ben’s harebrained schemes are always entertaining, and BJ imparting her inappropriate wisdom to a very impressionable Maddie each week is my favorite part of the show (this week, after finding out Kate’s new boyfriend is rich, BJ teaches Maddie the right way to talk to servants, Downton Abbey-style. It’s as awesome as it sounds). Yes, some of the storylines can border on just plain silly, but each episode is a believable slice of our characters’ world. It’s a show rooted in family; the family we have and the family we make (I’m tearing up a bit because it’s so true).
If there is one thing Ben and Kate has mastered in its short time on the air, it’s the art of the cold open (definition: the technique of jumping directly into the story in the opening of the show before the title sequence). Most cold opens introduce the theme of that episode. Below is one of my favorite opening scenes from their recent Thanksgiving episode:
To close, this is my favorite new comedy of the fall and I hope this inspires a few of you to start watching it. It airs every Tuesday at 8:30 PM on Fox. And you can catch up on previous episodes at fox.com and hulu.com.