There’s one often recurring story we’ve seen repeated a hundred times over: a small-town hick with soaring dreams gets the chance to move to the big exciting city, giving their life a brand new beginning.
One new Freeform show, however, flips this script. Bless This Mess, airing at 8:30 pm on Wednesdays, features a newlywed couple, Mike and Rio, from New York that decide to drop their hectic city life to move to a farm in the middle of rural Nebraska.
However, for a show priding itself on reversal of roles, much of the humor and characterization are largely based upon stereotypes and played-out tropes.
For instance, the Nebraskans are depicted as old-fashioned, sexist, and uneducated. They die laughing at the thought of a man taking his wife’s name; they suggest that a woman go make lemonade instead of helping build a chicken coop; they call Mike a woman for baking brownies, among other outdated gender roles.
The show isn’t too kind to New Yorkers, either. The newlyweds are completely over-exaggerated prejudices of “clueless coast people”.
The best way to describe the couple is simply an overuse of already trite cliches. Of course the New York couple is terrified of cows, and terrified of storms, and terrified of killing a chicken.
Furthermore, they are also incapable of building or repairing anything, mess up just about anything they put their hands on, and even climb up on the roof when – of course- the ladder falls, leaving them stuck in a rainstorm.
Overall, the city slickers are just a little bit too goofy and clueless to be believable. While watching, everything was just enough over the line for me to be thinking about the unrealism rather than laughing at the jokes.
There are a few slick one-liners that got me reluctantly laughing, yet most of the gags remain overdone and exaggerated.
It’s likely that anyone watching on either side of the country will end up a little offended at how they are represented.
Of course, all people contain nuance, and sometimes these stereotypes may be rooted in truth, but applied to such a large audience they just end up untrue.
The show does possess some sweet moments, in which characters learn how to navigate a new marriage, reflect on honest love, and one scene where all the neighbors show up to help patch a hole in the roof.
These more heartfelt times are where the show succeeds; focusing on showcasing the real sense of family in a small Nebraska town, rather than trying too hard with campy jokes.
Overall, those in charge better hope for some sort of blessing for this mess of a show.