Family Tree (TV series review)

Eight episodes there are and eight episodes there ever shall be of Family Tree because HBO cancelled that shiz.  But, as something of a Chris O’Dowd completest, I must delve into this show and see what it’s all about.  Join me!  

Family Tree stars the aforementioned Chris O’Dowd, Nina Conti, Michael McKean, Ed Begley Jr., Christopher Guest (who also writes and directs) and Kevin Pollak.  Tom (O’Dowd) is discovering his roots after a deceased Aunt ignites his curiosity by bequeathing him a trunk of unexplained heir looms.  His sister Bea (Conti) and her self-expression aide hand puppet Monkey offer support, as does his father Keith (McKean) in his search for answers to the mysteries contained in the box.  This leads him to meet strangers who knew his family and distant relatives like  Al (Ed Begley Jr.), David (Guest) and Marty (Pollak), who all bring their own eccentricities to the show.

Family Tree is exactly what you would expect once you find out Christopher Guest is involved.  It’s subtle and uncomfortable in his usual mockumentary style; once you identify with the protagonist, you go on this journey where he meets all these mad people, hilarious antics ensue…  If you’ve seen This is Spinal Tap, you know the drill.

There’s also lots of stuff happening in the background – there’s a poster for Avatar: The Musical at a theater and the fictional British TV shows are fantastic.  I can’t decide if I like There Goes the Neighborhood or Move Along, Please! or Sherlock Holmes: The New Frontier…  that’s almost all of them, actually, so I’ll just say they’re all great and leave it at that.

It’s a funny, well executed show… and yet, it’s not especially satisfying.  We bing-watched (that’s what the kids call it, right?) all eight episodes in one day, so perhaps that affected us one way or another… I can’t quite put my finger on it.  I think Dr. MyFiancee and I both enjoyed watching it and thought it was a fun time, I just can’t tell you it’s great.

Because it is not great.  But it is OK and I think genre fans will enjoy the show.

Since HBO cancelled Family Tree after one season, you can make up your own ending!  I like the idea that Tom and Ally (Amy Seimetz) go on a journey to discover her family tree which inevitably leads them back to Europe and to find out they are distantly related, which may or may not be gross depending on how close the relationship can be traced.

Family Tree just is what it is and since it’s over, it’ll never grow into anything else.  It’s worth a look if you love Chris O’Dowd like we do and comedy in general, but it’s certainly not for everybody.

I’d call that a lukewarm recommendation, but a recommendation nonetheless.

About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of, and editor in chief of

Posted on February 12, 2015, in tv review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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