If you watched any Olympics coverage, you undoubtedly saw the promos for “Guys With Kids.” It’s exactly what the title implies, a show about three dads who live in the same Manhattan apartment building. Chris (Jesse Bradford) is newly divorced and figuring out how to balance dating with being a dad. Nick (Zach Cregger) has a traditional family while Gary (Anthony Anderson) is a stay at home father of four.
The series was inspired by executive producer Jimmy Fallon‘s observations of hip New York dads who don’t let fatherhood cramp their style. “The one scene I really wanted to see, and I think it kind of sums it up for me, is when they’re not facing the camera. They’re facing away. And they’re watching the game. And they turn around, and there’s three babies strapped to these dudes. And you’re like, ‘Oh, yeah. Wait. You can have fun if you’re a dad. You’re not a nerd, and you’re not, like, trapped in your house and depressed.’” Below, the cast offers five things to know about the new comedy.
It’s An Antidote to the Bumbling, Incompetent Fathers on Most Television Shows: Most family comedies still rely on the trope of the dad who does not know how to handle basic parenting and household tasks. Says Fallon, “When we came up with this idea, it was Amy [Ozols] and I, who is my producing partner, we were just talking about all the guys that we were seeing around New York City and Times Square, like with the Baby Bjorns and the babies on the backs of their bikes, and I was saying, like, these are like young good looking guys. They’re just embracing the role of dad… It’s not really about what a drag it is to have kids. It’s more like, ‘I’m bringing the kid to the baseball game, and I forgot diapers. How do I make a diaper out of a hot dog wrapper and a napkin?’” Adds star Tempestt Bledsoe, who plays Anderson’s executive wife Marny, “I think this show really exposes this new trend, if you want to call it that, that fathering your children is cool. You know, being hands on, putting these kids to bed, being there with they wake up, cleaning up after them, feeding them, every moment of fathering your children is something to be proud of, and it’s cool.”
Watch an Extended Preview of “Guys with Kids”:
It’s Bringing Cosby Back: Speaking of Bledsoe, the actress will always be known for her roles as Vanessa Huxtable, who America watched grow up on NBC’s biggest hit of the 1980s, “The Cosby Show.” It’s easy to imagine that Marny is Vanessa as a thirtysomething. Bledsoe’s presence is not the only thing that the two shows have in common. “Guys With Kids” is one of the few comedies since Cosby to prominently feature a functional, upper middle-class African-American family. Says Anderson, “I specifically picked this role because it was showing an African-American family in a great light – a father who is involved in his kids’ lives, a loving relationship with his wife and it was on network television.. and he was a stay-at-home dad by choice. He wasn’t downsized or outsourced or anything like that. He was like, ‘No, I’m going to stay at home. I’m going to raise my four children., and my wife to go out and do what she wants to do.’”
It Also Aims to Bring Back Multi-Camera Sitcoms to NBC: Last season, NBC only had only one multi-camera comedy to survive the chopping block, “Whitney.” Shows that are filmed in front of a studio audience have fallen out of fashion at the network in recent years. Fallon, who films his talk show with an audience, wanted to bring back the genre that made NBC the number one network during the 1980s and 1990s. “If you look at the biggest shows out there, it’s ‘Big Bang Theory,’ it’s ‘How I Met Your Mother,’ stuff like that. Those are giant shows. So why don’t we have that on our network?… It’s funny because some people that saw like we had little sneaks that were on the Internet. Some people saw it and they go, ‘Why the laugh track?” I’m like, “There’s no laugh track. That’s just what happens in front of a live studio audience.’” For Anderson, the multi-camera format was part of the show’s appeal. “You feed off that audience and the energy that they bring helps,” he says. “They become one of your supporting characters in the show, That’s why I love performing in front of a live audience.”
It’s a Tribute to Male Friendships: From “Sex and the City” to “2 Broke Girls,” there have been numerous comedies about female friendship. Since the end of “Entourage,” there have not been any comedies that focus on male bonding. It’s at the heart of “Guys With Kids.” It is a group of friends. There’s power in numbers. “I mean, you could be in the worst mood, but when you have friends with you and people supporting you around you, you can get out of rough situations,” says Fallon. “Jesse’s characters gets divorced the week before this pilot is set. So he doesn’t know what to do. So he actually gets an apartment in the building with the guys so that he has support and help raising his kid, being a single dad and also being a dad who’s about to date.”
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Makes a Cameo: If a fresh take on fatherhood is not enough of a reason to tune in, the pilot features a scene-stealing appearance by basketball legend (and “Airplane!” co-star) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who pops up as Chris’s ex-wife’s date, which Fallon says exemplifies the show’s off-beat humor. “It’s out of left field. You think that this woman is actually just making up names, like, ‘I’m gonna date a very athletic man, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.’ That’s just like a fake name that will come up to you if you think of an athlete. And then when he actually comes in at the end, especially shooting the show in Los Angeles, the crowd went nuts, and he killed… I would love to bring him back for cameos or something. He’s not one of the regulars, but if he can come in and just have a heart to heart with a little baby, [it's hilarious because] he’s a very tall man.”
NBC will air a sneak peek of “Guys with Kids” on Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 10/9c. The series premiere will air in its regularly scheduled timeslot on Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 8:30/7:30c.