Binge This Show: Playing HouseBinge This Show: Playing House
KSiteTV's Shilo Adams explains why you should binge USA buddy comedy Playing House, which stars Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair. Binge This Show: Playing House

Playing House (USA)

Cast: Jessica St. Clair (Review); Lennon Parham (Accidentally on Purpose); Keegan-Michael Key (Key & Peele); Zach Woods (Silicon Valley); and Brad Morris (Dice)

Creator(s): St. Clair and Parham, who previously collaborated on NBC comedy Best Friends Forever

Number of Episodes (So Far): 26, spread across three seasons

Similar Shows: Aside from Best Friends Forever, which shares some premise DNA and a general vibe of Playing House, the closest current analog might be Broad City for the way the two shows portray airtight friendships between women, though Playing House is like the grown-up, settled down alternative to the Comedy Central show. It also shares the huge beating heart and unapologetic romantic streak of The Mindy Project and the lived-in relationship of a Gilmore Girls.

Why You Should Binge: Between hurricanes, earthquakes, wild fires, Congress attempting to decimate health care, and the threat of nuclear war, among many other atrocities, 2017 has been a bit of a hot mess. It can be tough to keep in a positive frame of mind when there’s so much toxicity in the 24-hour news cycle and when the light at the end of the tunnel seems light years away; while the increasingly political bent entertainment has taken might be good for those who want to remain informed and see our society (both in its idealized and current forms) reflected back to them, sometimes what you need is a good bit of escapism to remind you that life can be good.

Enter USA buddy comedy Playing House, which stars real life best friends Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham as Playing HouseEmma and Maggie, two long-time friends who become even closer after the latter discovers that her husband is cheating during her pregnancy. Emma opts to move back to the hometown she fled decades ago and help her friend through the rest of the pregnancy and the beginnings of motherhood. As warm and sweet as a freshly baked brownie, Playing House is a watch that traffics in the relatable (yet specific) shorthand of Emma and Maggie’s complex connection, as you instantly feel the years they’ve known one another without being shut out of their inside jokes. Anyone who’s ever had a best friend stay in their life for an extended period of time can see themselves in the love Emma and Maggie have for each other, knowing what it’s like to have someone see you for who you really are and accepting it without reservation.

Playing something like platonic, looser Gilmore Girls, another show set in a sleepy Northeastern town populated by a colorful recurring cast of locals, Playing House quickly moves beyond the series set-up and becomes a comfortable character-focused look at how any change in life is made easier by the presence of someone you love. The majority of the show is St. Clair and Parham getting into hi jinx together and supporting one another through the tough times, which includes an incredibly moving cancer arc in the third season that masterfully avoids becoming emotionally manipulative while underlining the series ethos of living life to the fullest and not allowing fear to hold you back, while individual stories of St. Clair’s Emma revisiting a romance with local policeman Mark (Key) that fell apart when she left town and Parham’s Maggie finding the purpose in her professional life that had been missing showcase an understated optimism that’s necessary in troubled times. In the world of Playing House, which revels in emotional intimacy and the search for self-fulfillment, it’s never too late to life the life you want; any time is the best time to find yourself. 

Especially if you have your best friend by your side along the way.

How You Can Binge: Every episode is available to stream through the USA site, the USA app, Seeso, and various On Demand outlets. You can buy the series through Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, and Google Play, while only the first season is available on DVD.

Week 1: Fuller House and Channel Zero

Shilo Adams

Shilo Adams is a contributor to KSiteTV who has written for the likes of TVOvermind, ScreenFad, and TVHackr. You can e-mail him at sda2107@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @sda0918.

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