This is an immediately likable and heartwarming new sitcom with a fantastic cast — look out for it.
This recap of The Unicorn (CBS) Season 1, Episode 1, “Pilot”, contains spoilers.
It’s nice to see Walton Goggins not playing a racist psychopath — in fact, the winning new CBS sitcom The Unicorn casts him in the opposite extreme, as likable nice-guy widower Wade who lost his wife a year ago and has been feeding his two daughters — Grace (Ruby Jay) and Natalie (Makenzie Moss) — frozen condolence meals ever since. His dogs sit on the kitchen worktops. He’s in a bad place.
Enter, then, his group of middle-aged parent friends, Ben (Omar Benson Miller) and Michelle (Maya Lynne Robinson), Delia (Michaela Watkins) and Forrest (Rob Corddry), who decide the time is right for him to start dating again. The Unicorn Episode 1 picks things up with Wade ready to change, but slightly unable to, stuck in a rut of refereeing soccer games and not noticing the remarkably obvious efforts of the local dime piece to get him in the sack. He’s not a character looking for pity, though — in fact, he actively avoids it, refusing even to list himself as widowed on a dating app so that he doesn’t attract “pity dates”, even though, according to his friends, it’s his widowed status that makes him the titular unicorn. He’s the man that women want, even if he doesn’t realize it himself, and the pilot gets some decent mileage out of this gag.
It helps that there are excellent comedic actors everywhere you look. Wade’s support network is built for gags, but also for an earnest sense of longstanding middle-aged friendship, and Goggins, having shed a lot of the eccentricity he has become known for as a character actor, delivers a really laidback straight man turn. The Unicorn Episode 1 is also careful to display his grief and anxieties in a way that is just honest enough without being maudlin; it’s a tricky balance but the show consistently finds the right tone, helped along by great chemistry shared by seemingly everyone involved, in front of and behind the camera.
The Unicorn Season 1, Episode 1 is impressively likable television that gets off to a great start in its pilot and doesn’t show any real sense that it might go off the rails. It’s reminiscent of ABC’s Single Parents, though it skews slightly older, and focuses more on the parents’ personal lives than how they raise their children, though Wade’s daughters are incredibly charming nonetheless. If it really leans into the talents of its cast, this could easily be the stand-out sitcom of the season, and there’s no reason to believe it won’t. If you’ve missed The Unicorn so far, now’s the time to hop astride.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.