“Mix” (ABC) pilot preview: A half-baked family soap that still makes you hungry for more!

Mix

Created by Jennifer Cecil (Private Practice, Brothers & Sisters, 92010, Hostages). Produced by Rashida Jones (A To Z), Will McCormack (A To Z) & Jeff Grosvenor. Directed by Daniel Barnz (Cake, Won’t Back Down, Beastly). For ABC, Warner Bros. Television & Le Train Train Productions. 58 pages.

Description: Welcome to Mix, a family-owned restaurant in Austin, Texas. It’s a special day… or perhaps the eye of the storm for the Castillos, a multicultural and multigenerational family. Owner and larger-than-life chef Ray Castillo is doing what he does best: cooking. He’s juggling running the restaurant, catering his son Mateo’s commitment ceremony to his boyfriend Finn and preparing the kitchen for the return of his daughter Remy, home from a three year stint in prison for drug possession. His ex-wife but best friend, Stella Knox, is always around, running an offshoot of Mix called Mix Plus. The food, family, and frenzy makes Ray long for the days when the clan was one big happy family…

With Sharon Lawrence (NYPD Blue, Ladies Man, Hidden Palms), Joaquim de Almeida (24, Desperado, Clear and Present Danger), Britne Oldford (American Horror Story, Ravenswood, Skins US), Walter Perez (Fame 2009, Friday Night Lights), Camille Guaty (Prison Break, The Nine, Las Vegas), Sam Page (Desperate Housewives, Mad Men, House of Cards), Blake Lee (Parks and Recreation, Mixology), Yodbee

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Family drama lovers like me feel abandoned and desperate since Parenthood went off the air a few weeks ago, leaving us with our tears of joy and damaged hearts (and some Empire and Shameless to cope with). And we’re still not over the Brothers & Sisters‘ Walkers yet even if they were cancelled 4 years ago! So, a project like Mix -the only family drama ordered to pilot this cycle- is a blessing as much as a curse. All our expectations and frustations are focused towards it. As a result, disappointment is likely. And disappointed I feel. But hopeful too. Mix is just not as good as Parenthood and Brothers & Sisters used to be. But hey, it’s a pilot! These family shows grow on us as time goes by, if time they get. Maybe it will turn into something great…

What makes Mix different is, of course, its multicultural take on family, spot on with the diversity fueled transformation networks are living right now. The father is latino, the mother is white, their children are biracial, among them one is gay, another one just adopted an African kid of 9 years old and the third one is the sister from another (black) mother. We’re just missing an asian character and the mix would have been complete. It doesn’t feel very natural to pile up minorities like this, yes it’s kind of opportunistic, but once you’re past that, it just feels good to live in a time when such a family can exist on television. I can’t say I’m fond of the whole set of characters for now, ‘cos we have met them before countless times, and I can’t say I’m crazy about the cast either since Sharon Lawrence, Joaquim de Almeida, Camille Guaty and so on are not Sally Field, Calista Flockart, Peter Krause or Lauren Graham. But I can assure you it didn’t cloud my judgement about the script. It’s just that Mix would have had a better chance to succeed with a stronger cast. I would have loved Rashida Jones, who’s producing the show, playing in it too, for example.

Mix finds the right balance between the prime time family soap like Dallas and the more emotion-based family drama like Parenthood, the same way Brothers & Sisters did in fact. Let’s call it a family dramedy, with a lot of heart, a bit of laughs and the inevitable dirty little secrets we’re exposed to throughout the pilot. Nothing new here: a father with debts, a family business on the verge of bankruptsy, a soon-to-be cancelled marriage and a black sheep who’s returning and creates chaos but not intentionally (this is a story of redemption, not revenge). Nothing really surprised me, except maybe the relationship between the parents, which is fascinating the way it is desribed: they’re three times divorcees but they still love each other and they still believe they can start over. It could have been ridiculous, but it’s sweet. That being said, Mix really needs a good villain and a pretty bitch to step up its game and get spicier, pepperier. The restaurant setting really helps getting in the mood, it gives some kind of authenticity to the show, a rhythm too. And there’s food everywhere all the time. It makes you hungry for more.

I certainly have… mixed feelings about Mix. It’s almost too simple and too sweet to be really good. It could the CW’s version of family dramedy (they had one, Life Unexpected, which was cool). But it’s heartwraming and promising, they just have to “soap” it up a bit. I don’t see it being the next Brothers & Sisters or Parenthood but it’s a nice little show we could be happy to return to every week. However, if ABC doesn’t order it to series, no need to cry over it. 

One comment

  1. tash says:

    Hope it’ll get picked up : i need some family drama on my schedule every week now that parenthood is over.
    Feels like a mix (no pun intended) of every abc family comedy in a 1-hour piece. could be fun or a bit redundant.

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