Current Network Shows · On Netflix

The Highs and Lows of CBS’s Life in Pieces

Disclaimer: I haven’t seen season two; this post is on the contents of season 1, which is currently available streaming on Netflix.

I had literally never heard of “Life in Pieces” when it came to Netflix a couple months ago. Apparently it premiered on CBS in 2015, but I guess I missed it. When I saw it in the Netflix “trending” list, I read its description and was mildly intrigued.

It’s essentially just a sitcom about a group of adult siblings, their families, and their aging parents. So, kind of the comedy version of “Parenthood”? Except with the gimmick that this show is divided into four short stories per episode.

Honestly, I don’t think the premise is that much to be excited about. And some of the show’s moral issues almost made me want to stop watching it. Yet, it had some surprising high points that made me really quite glad that I had watched it.

The Characters

A lot of times when I watch a sitcom, I don’t become very invested in the characters’ lives. Like as much as I loved the conservative Christian values in “Last Man Standing,” I can’t ever remember thinking about the characters in that show at some point in my day after watching it, pondering what might come next in their story. I think that, as much as I might tend to do this with a good drama, a lot of sitcoms skim along the laugh-tracks and fail to get us invested in the characters’ stories.

“Life in Pieces” was entirely different. Partly, it was just that some of its stories were more serialized in nature, carrying on over the course of a few episodes like most drama shows do. But partially, it was that these characters were very well-developed, likable, and fun.

My (unexpected) favorite character was actually Jen, the youngest brother’s wife. While feeling very real, she is comedically spectacular. Just when you think you’ve seen her situation before, she reacts in a way slightly different enough from your expectations to make it hilarious. Like when her husband said her dress made her look fat, and she got back at him by crushing his potato chips because he hates chip crumbs.

Hilarious, but so much more…

This show definitely delivered on its job as a sitcom. I was laughing hard-core, like more than a chuckle, probably at least once per episode.

But then it went a step further on my I-love-this-show scale and delivered some meaning as well.

Any time adult characters, who could easily have ditched their family members by now, are seen hanging out with and enjoying the company of their siblings or parents, I take notice. This is a show, rather like “Parenthood” or “This Is Us” where family is important, essential even.

And beyond that, there were also several instances, over the course of the first season, where a there was a story-line presented that did not jive morally with my Catholic views. And just when I started to get rather fed up with it, the plot turned. Like when the sister talked her husband into getting a vasectomy, only for her to start panicking because she’s realizing, “Holy crap, babies are amazing. What if I actually want more?” (I’m paraphrasing). Or when a condom-sex talk gives way to a girlfriend announcing she’s saving herself for marriage.

The Bad News

It’s pretty crude at times. Not terrible, but so much more than I wish it were.

There’s very little actual sex shown (only a couple comedic scenes of things like sexual attempts gone-awry/interrupted), but the dialogue can get a little gross. For instance, when a dad is describing his first awkward, botched, premarital sexual encounter to his teenage son in the pilot; or the entire story-line about a sext meant for a spouse but sent to the wrong person on accident.

So, do I recommend it?

With reservations.

Only you know how sensitive you are to occasional crude, sexual dialogue, because it affects different people differently.

Over all, this show is generally hilarious, has some deep moments of rather profound meaning, and yet occasionally has some pretty deep low points of crudity. Which is a shame, because its high points are really pretty excellent.