To say “Bless This Mess” — created by Bell, along with “New Girl” producer Elizabeth Meriwether — feels like an anachronism is an understatement. And while ABC has fared reasonably well with a brand of light family-oriented comedy, the network has rather inexplicably scheduled the series alongside “black-ish,” a show that grapples with serious matters pertaining to race in addition to seeking laughs.
In that context, “Bless This Mess'” failings seem more acute. Escapism has its place, but this feels more insubstantial than even the early-21st-century reality-TV version of this idea, “The Simple Life,” which unleashed city slickers Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie upon America’s heartland.
That’s not to say every TV show has to be about big issues. But when the differences between New York and Nebraska are basically limited to open roads and farm animals, the network and producers look to be sticking their heads in the sand, while pining for the days when people watched them by default.
It’s a long way back to 1965, when Oliver and Lisa (that is, Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor) said “Goodbye, city life” and took up residence in Green Acres, and in TV terms, that’s a good thing.
Yet what “Bless This Mess” inadvertently illustrates, more than anything, is however appealing it might be to roll back to the clock, to paraphrase the old song, it’s not so funny that we can’t talk anymore.
“Bless This Mess” premieres April 16 at 9:30 p.m. on ABC.