ABC’s Bless This Mess might be a charming comedy once you get past how, well, messy the premise is. The show focuses on New York City couple Mark and Rio (Dax Shepard and Lake Bell) who quit their jobs and move sight unseen to a recently inherited Nebraska farm with the intention of farming and living the “simple life”. They do this, however, with no experience, knowledge, or any research at all on what that is actually like.
It’s a very dumb thing for someone to do and the whole pilot I kept thinking, “Who is stupid enough to do this? Have these two had any real conversations about this?” And then by then end, we realize that’s the point. These two have gone through their first year of marriage with no conflict. We realize that, despite their obvious love for one another, they are actually great at ignoring uncomfortable, but necessary, conversations. They are more of a mess than the dilapted run down farm they just inherited. At the end of the pilot as Rio and Mark have their first argument, it's the kind of thing makes us wonder what other conversations they’ve been ignoring. It’s also one of those TV fights that’s funny and full of chemistry. These two are irritatingly stupid at times, but in this moment, I start to root for them.
Also, avid comedy watchers will see a lot of familiar faces in the background, and these characters are thus far, probably the strongest piece. The Sheriff especially is a surprising treat, as the fellow former outsider who both belongs to the town, but understands where Rio and Mark are coming from. Even if she sometimes thinks they are idiots too. Ed Begley Jr as the homeless barn dweller also steals every scene he’s in as the messiest but oddly wisest character thus far. Plus there's a perfectly cast antagonistic neighboring farmer that fans of The Office will appreciate. All in all, time will still tell if Bless this Mess can live up fully to the blessed part of its moniker. But in the meantime, I will give the mess part a chance.
Strange Perspective is a weekly look at all things pop culture by columnist Rachel Strange.