Once again, Reba McEntire plays a spunky gal blindsided by her husband's infidelity. As Reba Gallagher (another stretch?), she uproots her mother and two teenagers to move from Nashville to Malibu so she can reprise her music career. Yes, it all sounds like a "Reba" retread set in Hannah Montana's beachfront house, but shades of reality TV and "The Good Wife" add a new flavor to "Malibu Country."
Stand by your man, unless he's a moron
"The Good Wife" famously fictionalized the aftermath of those awkward press conferences featuring shamed politicians and their seemingly supportive wives. While Alicia Florrick manages to exit stage left before slapping her husband, Reba loses control. Hubby Bobby, a country music star, pushes her too far by urging her to publicly forgive his infidelity. She blows her redheaded top in front of reporters and suddenly decides to divorce the lying, cheating moron.
Like "Reba," "Malibu Country" gently uses humor to show the complex emotions involved in a fractured marriage. Reba shelved her own singing/songwriting career to become a stay-at-home parent and support Bobby's career. Getting back into the music business after 15 years isn't as easy as she expected because, as Geoffrey (Jai Rodriquez) points out, she isn't young or sexy.
Mama and medical marijuana
Taking a page from "Joan and Melissa: Joan Knows Best?" and "Roseanne's Nuts," Reba's mom experiments with medical marijuana. Lillie Mae (Lily Tomlin) responds to an ad about anxiety treatment and receives a leafy lollipop from a doctor. She acts silly but eventually stretches beyond the role of comic relief and hellion a la Granny in "The Beverly Hillbillies" to offer wisdom and support. She is an outspoken troublemaker who may give Reba a grey streak, but she is also her daughter's biggest supporter.
The housewife next door
Sara Rue is a tough sell as Reba's boozy, busty neighbor, Kim. She is nosy, annoying, and well-intentioned like Barbra Jean (Melissa Peterman) with a clueless, privileged attitude reminiscent of the cast of "The Real Housewives." Perhaps the show should take a page from "The New Normal" and recruit a real housewife for the role. Kim Zolciak's big personality, and even bigger hair, certainly fit the bill.
Cash and June
Reba's teens, Cash (Justin Prentice) and June (Juliette Angelo), are mildly obnoxious TV kids. Cash is superficial and a bit dim. He is excited to move to the beach because that is where bikinis congregate. June is somewhat pensive and critical, but quickly finds friendship in Kim's "gay" stepson, Sage (Hudson Thames). Reba is the only one who is on to his scheme to get cozy with girls. It is obvious that she will have to protect her family from the fast-paced lifestyle of Malibu.
"Malibu Country" feels like "Reba 2.0," but its charisma and charm make it a fun, reliable comedy.
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