The premise of Grandfathered—a seasoned playboy suddenly learns he has a secret son—might not sound so riveting at first. But throw in a dynamic cast, fresh jokes and a new twist, and the new Fox sitcom just might become one of your favorite shows of the season. I laughed out loud multiple times, and no, I had not been drinking. I am, however, John Stamos’s biggest fan.
John Stamos plays Jimmy Martino, a Los Angeles restaurateur who discovers he’s both a father and a grandfather all at the same time. A wealthy, middle-aged man with Peter Pan syndrome, Jimmy never had to really worry about anyone other than himself, and now he’s got this instant family he suddenly has to care about. What’s a lifelong bachelor to do?
As the episode begins, Jimmy is seen schmoozing with the various V.I.P.’s populating his restaurant’s tables. He spouts the cheesiest pick-up lines—he talks about his penchant for collecting trains and how he hopes to “share them with a son” someday, and tells a woman he loves his life, but “would give it all up for a family.” But he’s also foreshadowing his fatherly role: perhaps some truth lies behind Jimmy’s baby blues?
Just as his head chef makes a joke about gluten-free pasta, in walks Gerald, Jimmy’s previously unknown 26-year-old son (played by Nickelodeon alum Josh Peck). Gerald announces he’s the product of a relationship between Jimmy and his mother, Sara (Paget Brewster), from many years ago. He then drops a second surprise, in the form of a baby daughter, making Jimmy — a man who apparently has never had a grey hair in his life—a grandfather.
When Jimmy asks Gerald why he decided to reach out to him now after all these years, Gerald describes reading a Buzzfeed listicle entitled, “28 Reasons Why Having a Dad Is the Best.” By number 12, he says, “I was crying so hard I was dehydrated.” There’s also another motive. See, Gerald is quite opposite from his Casanova father. He’s awkward, goofy and lacks his dad’s ladykiller gene. He also has a thing for his baby momma, Vanessa (Christina Milian), but dude’s pretty much been friend-zoned, so he enlists his dad’s expertise. Jimmy, ready to prove his worthiness as a father, is more than happy to help.
As expected, the appearance of his newfound progeny causes Jimmy to question his life. While he’s successful, handsome and the owner of one of the hottest dining spots in town, he is also a 50-year-old bachelor, a term he likens to “society’s most worthless people.”
There are enough parallels between Jimmy Martino and John Stamos that you have to wonder how much his character is typecasting. Stamos, who divorced Rebecca Romijn in 2005, is also single and has no kids. He undoubtedly has had a pretty thrilling love life. This is the man who dated Forever Your Girl-era Paula Abdul, Vanity before she met Prince, and whom Denise Richards named as one of her greatest lovers. (I doubt he would ever write a tell-all, but I’d be first in line for it.) There’s also one cute hat tip to Stamos’s real life adventures: Jimmy lives in a decked out, high-rise pad with a voice-activated music system. When he commands it to play “happy pop,” a song from The Beach Boys, with whom Stamos has played throughout the years, flows through the speakers.
There are also similarities between the role of Jimmy and others Stamos has played through the years. Ten years ago in Jake in Progress, Stamos played a serial womanizer who wanted to change his ways and settle down. In Full House, he was Uncle Jesse, a bad-boy rocker turned “Teddy Bear” serenader who did his fair share of diaper-changing. In Grandfathered, Stamos successfully changes a diaper, but discovers it belongs to an entirely different toddler. A case of mistaken diaper identity. Grandaddy has a lot to learn.
The jokes are hilarious, kind of weird, and mostly center around Jimmy’s high-maintenance persona. When Jimmy asks what the one thing he always said was missing in his life, his assistant manager answers back, “Linen pants that go from the beach to the bar?” When Gerald relays a story about his mother and Jimmy attending a Jane’s Addiction concert, he cites the reason for the couple’s early departure was due to Jimmy refusing to go number two in the club. “Sounds like you,” his employees respond. And when Jimmy confronts Sara about never telling him they had a son, he accuses, “What if I were gay and met him at a bar?” There are also funny references to Portlandia and Coachella, plus enough cameos to rival Empire. In the pilot alone, Deion Sanders, Stamos’s BFF Bob Saget, Don Rickles (!?) and Lil Wayne, Milian’s rumored ex, all show up.
There is also notable diversity among Grandfathered’s supporting cast. Kelly Jenrette plays Annalise, Jimmy’s no-bullshit assistant manager who’s a lesbian (“job requirement”) and holds everything together for her boss. Ravi Patel plays Chef Ken, and of course Milian is the oblivious baby momma who carries the key to Gerald’s heart. Hopefully they will all get a chance to shine throughout the season.
Even with the familiar trope, the laughs are plenty and, though I may be biased, Stamos is charming as hell. As they say, like a fine wine, he gets better with age. He is the true GILF.
Image via screenshot/Fox.