Amy Sherman-Palladino had exquisite timing with Gilmore Girls, an of-the-moment, hyperarticulate, pop culture-referencing take on women that was as witty as it was charming. Now that the national obsession is babies from Juno's to Brangelina's she offers up The Return of Jezebel James, a sitcom about a career woman looking to park her egg in her sister's uterus. The timing, again, is perfect it's the tone that's off.
The charmless Jezebel stars Parker Posey as Sarah, a children's-book editor who's over 35, single, and infertile. It's a sympathetic situation for an unsympathetic character, Sarah being yet another of Posey's shrill, brittle women (see: You've Got Mail, Best in Show, et al.). Sarah's sister, Coco (Six Feet Under's Lauren Ambrose), is a recovering addict whose home is a friend's couch. Ambrose seems befuddled by Coco, but that's hardly her fault Jezebel is full of slippery notions. Such as, why ask your estranged, ne'er-do-well sister to be your surrogate? And why should Coco accept? It can't just be for the nice digs and free cable.
Sherman-Palladino forces the sisters on each other out of an almost crippling sense of joint self-interest that's as painful as it is illogical. Supposedly, the two bond when Sarah tells Coco the name of her new book series: Jezebel James, after Coco's childhood imaginary friend. It's weak grounds for motherhood, and even weaker for comedy. C-