With its blunt title, I Hate My Teenage Daughter is actually misleading. It should be We Hate Our Teenage Daughters: Jaime Pressly and Katie Finneran, both extremely skilled comic actors, may have thought they could find something interesting in material that so openly addresses the tensions between mothers and daughters, but they’ve been sabotaged by the writing, which wimps out in favor of sentimentality.
Pressly’s Annie and Finneran’s Nikki are divorced best friends with pasts that have left them insecure and reliant on each other. Annie was raised in a strict home and forbidden to consume pop culture; Nikki struggled with her weight and felt ostracized while growing up. Now they both have 14-year-old daughters who take advantage of the mothers’ weaknesses and use the skills of a torturer to get what they want (which the show would have us believe is the right to dress revealingly and communicate chiefly by text messaging).
This is less the stuff of a sitcom than an episode of MTV’s True Life: Our Mothers Are Neurotic. Annie and Nikki are grasping and needy in distinctive ways; unfortunately, daughters Sophie (Kristi Lauren) and Mackenzie (Aisha Dee) are indistinguishably obnoxious. I’d respect the show more if the two episodes I’ve seen didn’t wrap up with treacly-happy endings that betray the essential grittiness of the concept. This could have finally been the Fox sitcom that carried on the vulgar-realist tone of Married…With Children. C+