After leaving Gilmore Girls in 2006, Amy Sherman went on to create and produce another show, this one a sitcom for Fox, called The Return of Jezebel James. Despite Amy Sherman’s past television success and a talented cast, the project was doomed from the beginning. Between its unnecessarily long name and Friday night time slot, even Parker Posey and Lauren Ambrose couldn’t save it.
This would be tragic if the show had actually been good. Unfortunately, it was recorded with a laugh track that feels so out of place if rivaled the one in Sports Night. While funny at times it was hardly a traditional sitcom, and the canned laughter felt forced. There were moments where Amy Sherman’s fast-paced dialogue worked, but in most cases the attempts at creating Gilmore-esque banter fell short. She did too good of a job in creating Lorelai Gilmore—it was difficult to hear Sarah and Coco Thompkins as anything but two parts of her quippy whole.
The premise of the show did not add much to the plausibility of the relationship between estranged sisters Sarah and Coco. Sarah is a successful editor of children’s books who decides she wants to have a baby after being left by her long time boyfriend. When she discovers she can’t have children on her own, she asks her sister to be her surrogate. While it makes sense to hire a sibling, even one who’s not close, instead of a stranger, it is unclear why Sarah wants to procreate at all. Throughout the show’s short run, it only gets more dubious whether she really wants it at all. While all television requires a certain willing suspension of disbelief, the one doesn’t walk, but drunkenly stumbles the fine line between believable and unbelievable. Jezebel James of the title is Coco’s childhood imaginary friend, used only to bring the sisters back together and then never mentioned again. This would be fine if it didn’t make for such as obnoxious title. Given how quickly Jezebel James was canceled, everything naturally goes unresolved. Even so, the pacing is weird and the outcome of most of the story lines are predictable.
All seven episodes, only three of which were ever aired on Fox, are free to watch on Hulu. There are worse ways to spend three and a half hours. Lauren Ambrose is always enjoyable to watch and Parker Posey could be too if only she didn’t so often say “Coco” in the most annoying way.
Next week I will watch the short-lived show Canterbury Law and see how it compares to its more successful incarnation, The Good Wife.