Four of the five “Househusbands of Hollywood” are actors, and the fifth is former Los Angeles Dodger Billy Ashley, who is married to makeup artist Lisa Ashley. This is significant because the house-husbandry actually takes a back seat to the bad acting, staged moments, cutesy direct-to-camera confessionals and celeb-reality trappings. The whole reality-as-sitcom exercise is for the most part about as compelling as vacuuming the house, although provided that you don’t believe a word of it, I suppose fleeting parts are mildly entertaining.
To say the “Househusbands” and their spouses are an attention-hungry group would be the height of understatement, beginning perhaps with local KTTV personality, Fox Sports weather gal and diet pitchwoman Jillian (Barberie) Reynolds, who proves she can be brash, loud and annoying in an entirely new space. She is married to Grant Reynolds, who is joined by Darryl M. Bell (aka Mr. Tempestt Bledsoe); Danny Barclay (whose wife, Catherine, is an attorney); and the aforementioned Ashley.
Finally, there’s Charlie Mattera, whose wife, Gail, is a psychologist and refuses to be shown on camera lest that harm her practice. (Think Vera on “Cheers” or, since she’s sometimes heard speaking to him on the phone, Carlton the doorman from “Rhoda.”)
Fortunately, Charlie is friends with Ryan O’Neal, who appears periodically hanging out with him. Father to a newborn, Charlie is also wrestling with breaking it to his in-laws that he was once a bank robber who served prison time, meaning a national TV audience (OK, let’s get real: a Fox Reality Channel TV audience) learns the truth about his past indiscretions before they do.
And so it goes. Bell teaches his kids to play poker. Barclay puts on a chicken suit for a children’s party. At various points the five guys hang out together — not because they seem to have any pre-existing ties, necessarily, but simply because they have been cast in the show and, well, that’s the gig. The couples fight obligingly, and Lisa tells her kids that she lied about being married previously.
The producers insist it’s all real, but this is difficult to swallow, inasmuch as the action unfolds with the same sense of authenticity as an episode of “Rules of Engagement.”
“Househusbands” pretends to be about shifting marital dynamics and social mores, and almost by accident, there is some evidence of that. Mostly, though, it’s just another family sitcom starring a bunch of actors — and one ambitious morning TV host — auditioning for their next jobs.
Faced with that cast, I actually liked the invisible psychologist best.