Money talks for family members in ‘Home Economics’

Topher Grace and Caitlin McGee return to series work

Topher Grace stars as “Home Economics” premieres Wednesday on ABC.

Being in a financial bind is nothing to laugh about, especially these days … yet a new sitcom finds humor in that plight, mirroring the background of one of its creator-producers.

Premiering Wednesday, April 7, ABC’s “Home Economics” returns Topher Grace (“That ‘70s Show”), Caitlin McGee (“Bluff City Law”) and Jimmy Tatro (“Modern Family”) to series work as siblings whose monetary situations vary wildly. One is very well-off, another is modestly comfortable, and the third is struggling — and their conversations often involve their bank accounts. The show is based on the experiences of Michael Colton, who created the show with John Aboud; they’re also executive producers along with star Grace and TV-comedy veterans Eric and Kim Tannenbaum (“Two and a Half Men”).

Colton explains that he and Aboud “were in the middle of a particularly bad year where we couldn’t get a job” when the seed for “Home Economics” was planted. “I was actually collecting unemployment, and I have a twin brother who sold a company for about $7 million. And then, I have a sister who (does) social work and has never made money.

Caitlin McGee stars as “Home Economics” premieres Wednesday on ABC.

“It was just all of these feelings of anxiety mixed with pride, jealousy and insecurity,” Colton reflects, “and we realized, ‘This has the makings of a show.’ So many shows focus on rich families or blue-collar families, but we haven’t really seen one where you saw all of these different levels within one family.”

Musing that he was “the least good-looking person” on “That ‘70s Show,” Grace enjoyed having a say in choosing his “Home Economics” co-stars as an executive producer. “The best part of being part of casting,” he reasons, “was, one: knowing that you’re going to get the absolute best human being for the role, and two: knowing who they are as people. I look forward to spending a long time with this cast.”

For all of its humor, actress McGee believes “Home Economics” touches upon themes particularly relevant now. “The country is going through a very interesting time,” she notes. “People within their own families are struggling and helping each other out.  The love and support of family members is what gets you through job loss, and that’s something that my character is going through on the show and she has to be honest about. It’s not a comfortable thing to talk about, but I think having it in this context, in a comedy, is accessible. To make people laugh is super-important in this moment.”

The result, Colton says, is the “most relatable” project he and creative partner Aboud have worked on. “Everybody struggles with money or struggles with siblings who need money. it seems like it’s hitting a chord.”

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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