Weekend Family is Disney+‘s first French original series, and it’s a pretty traditional family comedy about a blended family who gets upended when the dad’s girlfriend moves in. It’s not a new premise, but set against the backdrop of Paris, it’s definitely a refreshed one. Oh, and the dad has three daughters with three ex-wives. How very European, right?
Opening Shot: Scenes of a residential area in Paris.
The Gist: Fred (Eric Judor) is an osteopath who has three daughters with three ex-wives. Victorie (Midie Dreyfus), 12, is from his second ex-wife Marie-Ange (Jeanne Bournaud). Clara (Liona Bordonaro), 15, daughter of his first ex-wife Laurence (Annelise Hesme), is the activist of the family. Romy (Roxane Barazzuol), 9, daughter of his third ex-wife Helena (Anabel Lopez) is smart and a whole lot of clever. He has great relationships with all his exes, and he watches all three girls on the weekends.
One day, Helena sends someone his way who needs help with her neck. Emmanuelle (Daphnée Côté-Hallé), a doctoral student in child psychology from Montreal, comes by his office and soon the two of them start a relationship. Six months later, he’s ready for Emma to meet his daughters; he also wants to ask her to move in with him.
It seems like the voicemails he’s leaving and the texts he’s been sending her have gone unanswered, and that ends up being for a good reason: Romy replaced Emma’s number in his contact with hers. No one checks the number under the name in their contacts, right? At one point, Romy texts as Emma that she wants to break up with him.
Emma isn’t sure she even wants to stay; she’s shipped her stuff back to Canada and thinks it’s better if she finishes her doctoral studies there. When the two of them have dinner the night before she intends to leave, Fred’s face gets burned by one of Clara’s natural face treatments (turns out it was hair remover), but he also lets slip some of the texts he thought he got from Emma.
Clara finds out about what Romy, with help from Victorie, was doing; Romy’s view is that their dad has been lying to them about Emma and how serious it is. But when Clara forces her sisters to go to where dad and Emma are having dinner to apologize, Emma feels that it’ll be too hard to get the girls to like and accept her. But some new texts the next day change her mind.
What Shows Will It Remind You Of? The vibe of Weekend Family is pretty close to the old ABC series Trophy Wife, but with a show that’s geared more towards family viewing (and a much better name).
Our Take: There are moments when Weekend Family, created by Baptiste Filleul, can get a little goofy, especially when it comes to the whole idea of Romy misdirecting her dad’s calls and texts to Emma without him realizing it. But, as far as family-oriented shows go, Weekend Family has more than enough smart moments, and warm moments that are earned rather than forced, to make the show worth watching.
So far, there’s no background on how Fred managed to get married and divorced three times, and how tough it was to create this extraordinarily complex blended family. We’re OK with that, for now; we’re joining Fred at the stage where everything with his three daughters and three exes is hunky-dory, and Emma’s presence will not only shake things up but create new relationships.
At some point, however, it would be fun to learn how things evolved in this family, maybe in the form of flashbacks that will help reassure Emma that everything will be fine in the long run. But for now, we appreciate the fact that the girls love their dad, they love each other but get into the usual sisterly conflicts, and all of their moms know the value of having them stay together with Fred every weekend.
But all of the warmth going back and forth, and the chemistry between Judor and the girls who play his daughters, is more than enough to make us intrigued about where the stories are going to go.
What Age Group Is This For?: Weekend Family is a show that kids 8 and up can enjoy.
Parting Shot: Romy shows Emma all the fridge shelves for her and her sisters. Clara’s is gross because she’s vegan. Victorie’s is gross because of all of her allergies. Hers? “It’s the best, but you can’t have it.”
Sleeper Star: Yes, Roxane Barazzuol is in the “precocious kid who talks like a teenager” role as Romy. But she somehow pulls it off without being irritating. That’s a big deal.
Most Pilot-y Line: At certain points, Fred had a tissue or piece of cotton over his eye and we had no idea why. Later, there were reasons for it, but not at the point where we first saw it. Feels like a continuity error.
Our Call: STREAM IT. Weekend Family succeeds by laying off the overacting and corniness you see in many kid sitcoms and just relies on warmth, character development and chemistry.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.com, Fast Company and elsewhere.