Alex, Inc. premieres March 28th, 8:30pm on ABC.
By Ariba Bhuvad
Scrubs’ Zach Braff is back again! Except this time, he is playing Alex Schuman – a husband, a father of two, and a 37-year old man who quits his job to start a business. Based on Alex Blumberg’s podcast, “StartUp”, this new ABC comedy series focuses on the ups and downs of Braff’s character as he makes a drastic decision to start his own podcast company while balancing the responsibilities of his family. In the first three episodes given to critics for review, the series begins to lay down the foundation of where Alex, Inc. is headed. I had a mixed feelings about the first three episodes as at times the humor felt too dry and forced.
One thing Alex, Inc. relies too heavily on is repeating the concept of Braff narrating the show. We have already seen this for many years during Scrubs where Braff did inner monologues for his character J.D. Seeing it brought in for Alex, Inc. makes it less unique (even if it brings back great memories of Scrubs). I wish they would have gone a different route because it’s almost too familiar and after making his comeback to television, I was hoping for something a little new.
In the first three episodes, we are introduced to the Schuman family which includes Alex’s wife, Rooni (Tiya Sircar), his daughter Soraya (Audyssie James), and his son Ben (Elisha Hennig). The family dynamic that is presented is actually the best part of the episodes. Rooni is flustered with Alex quitting his job but she continues to be supportive despite the impact it has on her. Meanwhile, the kids steal the show in the first three episodes. Soraya and Ben are strong characters that stand out all on their own–they’re funny, silly, corky, and are the comedic aspect of Alex, Inc. We also meet Roonie’s mom who momentarily makes things interesting because of her rough-around-the edges attitude. When Alex sets off to start the company he brings along an old co-worker (who is in love with him), Deirdre (Hillary Anne Matthews) and his cousin Eddie (Michael Imperioli). The dynamic between Alex, Deirdre, and Eddie gets overwhelmingly annoying because Deirdre and Eddie don’t get along and Alex is trying to bring them together. Eventually, the two find common ground but Deirdre’s lust for Alex is over the top and takes away from the scenes that are trying to focus on Alex’s business–it just feels like an unnecessary addition to the plot.
Overall, Alex, Inc. isn’t exactly what I was expecting when I began watching the episodes. I had a preconceived idea of what Zach Braff’s comeback to television would be like and it didn’t quite turn out the way I wanted it to. I found myself a bit torn because while I enjoyed hearing him narrate the show, it just felt too much like what he has already done, and that just didn’t sit well with me. However, I love the characters (mainly, the kids) and I did find some moments to be oddly inspiring–especially as he began to put the company together and balanced family life. I do need to point out that it felt a bit unrealistic (at least, in these first three episodes) that things just keep working out for him, even when he messes up. I think that aspect of it might be too far-fetched and despite it being a comedy, I do hope as the first season goes on, they introduce some screwups to make the show more relatable.
I give Alex, Inc. a C+.