“Delores & Jermaine” (ABC) pilot preview: Grandma Whoopi hates you already!


Written by Danny Chun (The Office, The Simpsons, Happy Endings) & Jermaine Fowler. Produced by Jermaine Fowler, Whoopi Goldberg, Tom Leonardis, Danny Chun, Michael Rotenberg (Philadelphia, Silicon Valley) & Avi Gilbert. For ABC, ABC Studios & 3 Arts Entertainment. 51 pages.

Description: Jermaine is a millennial with big ideas, but very little drive. When he has no other choice but to move in with his estranged grandmother Delores, a strict, football-loving, former DC cop, he brings his youthful enthusiasm into her life as much as she helps him grow up thanks to her old-school parenting methods. Soon enough they’ll become inseparable…

With Jermaine Fowler, Whoopi Goldberg

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You know what? This shit is good. Better than expected, better than you think and even better than it should have been. I mean: a young man living with his grandma, it’s quite exciting on paper I think -I love grandmas on TV shows and I love mine too but that’s not the point here- but it’s paper thin at the same time. Somehow, the magic happens and at the end of the pilot, nothing about it seems thin anymore. Lightning strikes because of Danny Chun & Jermaine Fowler’s writing first -didn’t know anything about Jermaine before, now I’m interested- because it has a heart and also because imagining Whoopi Goldberg saying those lines made me laughed out loud very often while reading. Like every time she opens her mouth in fact. If she’s as good as she used to be -her last sitcom is not a proof of that, neither her pretty lazy presentation of talk show The View– then it’s gonna be hilarious, funny-every-two-seconds hilarious, you know. Of course, if you don’t like multicamera sitcoms in general, you won’t like this one either. But you already know that and that’s probably never gonna change.

The pilot starts with Jermaine telling his story straight to the camera from a confessionnal, the one of a brilliant boy, the first member of his family going to college, who drops out after a few months because he’s fucking lazy. And months later of doing nothing, his father kicks him out to teach him a lesson. His mother can’t welcome him in her home ‘cos she’s a newlywed and she needs to spend some quality/sexy time with her wife, so he ends up with the grandma he didn’t even remember he had. That is when the fun begins, only after a few pages. I’m not sure about the confessions scenes honestly, they don’t seem necessary and it’s the kind of narrative tool that is left out from the second episode. We’ll see if it works. At this point, they are not embarrassing or bad. They’re just superfluous and don’t add much.

But everything else is working. Jermaine could have been dumb and irritating. He’s a smart ass instead, but doesn’t show it too often. He’s cute when he smiles, he brings energy and enthusiasm in his grandma’s life and it really feels good spending time with him. Every time he makes a mistake -every 5 minute- he is instantly forgiven. Delores is extraordinary. She’s mean. She’s obssessed with sports. She’s angry all the time but you fall in love with her the second she appears. Most of the pilot consists of convincing her that Jermaine is a good kid and can be her roommate, he even finds her a date -sort of- at some point, and shit happens of course. Note that Jermaine has a drug-dealer twin brother, Jerome, who’s just coming out of prison and will certainly stirr up trouble in the future.

I’m not sure what ABC can do with Delores & Jermaine since multicameras are not their thing and, sadly, Cristela is not what we can call a hit right now -even if it’s awesome- and could be cancelled at the end of the season, but if the network wants to prove to the world they can do multicamera comedies as efficiently as CBS does (or did), then this one is the right vehicle to do so! We could have a lot of fun with those two. And we want Whoopi back!

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