Television producers have looked at families in a variety of ways as a source of comedy. There have been traditional, nontraditional, one parent, two dads, no mom and so on over the years.
NBC’s latest attempt in the genre, “Crowded,” looks at what happens when a couple (Patrick Warburton and Carrie Preston) believe they have the house to themselves after their grown daughters (Miranda Cosgrove and Mia Serafino) move out. It’s only temporary bliss as their daughters move back in.
The idea for the series came out of the statistic that 31 percent of millennials live at home. That fact isn’t as interesting to executive producer Suzanne Martin as finding out that 80% of those millennials living at home are happy with their situation.
“They like their parents,” Martin says.
And this isn’t just happening in the United States. One in four millennials in England are living at home. That number skyrockets in Italy, where 80% are living with their parents.
The show was inspired by Martin’s own experience of seeing her daughters leave home to go to college, only to have them return four years later. Just like in the opening episode, she and her husband found they had to go to a hotel for some privacy.
It was a struggle, but it gave her insight into why the boomerang effect is happening.
It’s economic to a certain extent, but even as the economy is improving, each year the numbers are going up,” Martin says. “So it’s not just the economy. I think the root cause, which we try to get into in the show a bit, is that this is the first generation where we really made our kids our friends, and the whole time we were doing it, everyone was saying, ‘Don’t do that. You are not supposed to do that,’ but we did it anyway.
“They like us. They don’t want to leave. We told them they were special. We told them to follow their dreams.”
Warburton’s calling the show “Crowded Light” because he had four children plus four dogs and his in-laws who lived with him all of last year. Toss in a boyfriend and a girlfriend who, according to Warburton, think they live at his house too, and he’s ready to play the role.
The one thing that makes it work is the love in the house, even when he’s not sure what to do.
“There’s confusion and, of course, befuddlement. I have two adult kids living at home. My son, Talon, is 23 years old and 6 foot 5. I look up to him. And I have a daughter, but I still I don’t get girls. I assume they like to take baths and put on Jean Nate, and I don’t know even what that is, if that’s a perfume or something. I don’t know. So I don’t get it,” Warburton says.
The actor, whose last comedy was the long-running “Rules of Engagement,” jokes that even with his own full house, that’s nothing compared to dealing with the two actresses playing his daughters.
This is Cosgrove’s first series since she starred in “iCarly.” The 22-year-old actress is a blend of what’s going on with young people because while she owns her own home, she spends 99% of her time with her parents.
“I only go to my house if I get in an argument with my parents, and I threaten them, ‘I’ll go to my house.’ But, other than that, I really love it there. I just love my parents, and it’s nice to get to be around them. I even have my childhood room at the home that they live in, and it’s just nice to get to be able to have that,” Cosgrove says.
Preston, the 48-year-old actor last seen on “The Good Wife,” has seen this trend change in recent years. She recalls that when her generation went off to college, anyone who returned home to live with their parents was considered to be a loser. Now, there doesn’t seem to be a stigma.
Besides, it is providing material for TV’s latest comedic look at families.
- 9:30 p.m. Sunday, March 20, KSEE (Channel 24.1)