You might be familiar with the trope: A new or different kid is turned away from a lunch table because their established group doesn’t want him to sit with them. If you thought this cliché only applied to new students and lunchroom bullies, you’d be wrong. FOX’s comedy “The Cool Kids” uses a story centered around this idea to kick off this series about a group of mischievous elders in a retirement community.
The audience is first introduced to the tension between retiree Margaret and a group of old men: Hank, Charlie and Sid, who have conflicting feelings about finding someone to fill their recently deceased friend’s seat at their table. When Margaret simply saunters up and sits down, the men are appalled. After Hank says that she can’t sit there, Margaret asks “Why not? Who are you guys, the cool kids?”
The action commences from there. Margaret tries to prove her worth, and the guys try to force her out. While this group of retirees is quite different from the “Plastics” in “Mean Girls,” their insistence on who could and couldn’t be in their group reminded me of the iconic line, “You can’t sit with us!”
The show was moderately funny. None of the scenes were hilarious or laugh-out-loud, but there were jokes, and they were somewhat humorous. There were many references to the characters’ age, including wisecracks about pretending to have memory problems to get out of trouble, poor hearing and how the world was different 50 years ago.
Each character brings their own unique personalities to balance out the friend group. Hank is the leader, the one who comes up with plans and directs the group as to how they should act and what they should do. Charlie is the crazy one with funny, unbelievable stories. Sid is comic relief: A silly, lovable character who seems to find himself in compromising situations. Margaret is the rebel who does what she wants and doesn’t care about consequences.
I found some of these characterizations to be trite and tired. None of the characters seemed like they had deeper personalities under these basic traits, though I did find Sid to be lovable. There was a big storyline in the pilot where Charlie and Hank asked Sid to flirt with Margaret in order to dissuade her from sitting with them.
Sid is gay, and he didn’t know how to flirt with Margaret. He jokingly said that there was a way that Margaret could “earn” a seat at the table, and Margaret pretended to take the remark as a sexual invitation. She pushed Sid to describe how she’d be able to earn the seat, forcing him to uncomfortably explain the “man-woman stuff” involved in winning a spot at the table.
He finally gave up, saying “Cheese and crackers, don’t make me keep saying it!”
It was a lighthearted moment and made me feel for Sid, even though his reaction to the situation was funny. The scene also led to him accepting Margaret, which was nice.
Overall, though, the show wasn’t extremely funny, and the characters felt flat and stagnant. Though (spoiler alert) Margaret ultimately gets to sit with them, I don’t think I’d even bother asking for a seat with “The Cool Kids.”
Stephanie Santillo is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.