In Up All Night, which premiered Wednesday on NBC, TV vets Christina Applegate (Married…With Children) and Will Arnett (Arrested Development) play new parents struggling with unfamiliar responsibilities. Though they frequently marvel at how "f---ing beautiful" their baby is, they also mourn their days of "dancing on the pool table, doing Jaeger shots, and dazzling the folks with my old-school raps." Their infant, it turns out, is indifferent to their hangovers. Also on board: SNL alum Maya Rudolph as Applegate's boss, an unmistakably Oprah-like talk show host. Does Up All Night, which has been called TV's "funniest family sitcom," give Modern Family a run for its money?
Yes. It gets parenting right: Though parenting comedies aren't exactly novel, says James Poniewozik at TIME, Up All Night feels fresh. Focusing on the period right after the baby's arrival is smart — and the show's "sweet, good-hearted minuteness of observation" really works. Despite the occasional, trite diaper-changing crack, the show doesn't troll for the most obvious gags. One particular spat over which parent slept more recently "rings 100 percent true (and 100 percent funny)."
"TV Tonight: Up All Night, Free Agents"
And the acting makes it worthwhile: Up All Night may not be a rat-a-tat "joke machine," says Ken Tucker at Entertainment Weekly, but its more subtle emphasis on character makes it worth watching. Arnett's down-to-earth dad departs brilliantly from the self-absorbed manchild roles he usually plays. Applegate is more "madcap" than ever playing a new mom, while Rudolph steals the show with her Oprah impression. Seeing how these great characters develop will make for "a richer, more satisfying sitcom experience."
"Up All Night: Christina Applegate, Will Arnett, and Maya Rudolph deliver the laughs"
Actually, this show is tired and lousy: Any parent can attest to the bottomless well of "bringing up baby" jokes, says David Hinckley at the New York Daily News. But that doesn't mean stringing them together and calling the result a sitcom is a good idea. Applegate, Arnett, and Rudolph are all fine performers squandered in dimensionless roles. "Up All Night could have the cutest baby and funniest diaper jokes in the world and we still wouldn't stick around for breakfast."
"Up All Night"