Home sweet home: Take a trip through time with 'The Kids Are Alright'

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Francis Babin / TV Media
Jack Gore stars in "The Kids Are Alright"

Jack Gore stars in "The Kids Are Alright"

The new prime-time television season is finally here and, as usual, it features plenty of returning hits, fresh takes on old favorites, ambitious dramas and a healthy dose of period pieces. On Tuesday, Oct. 16, take a trip through time and make yourself at home with the Cleary family as they witness the dawn of a new era in the premiere of "The Kids Are Alright" on ABC.

With the addition of the 1970s-set "The Kids Are Alright" to the lineup, ABC has doubled down on single-camera, ensemble-cast period comedies. "Kids" marks the network's third past-set series (with a fourth, the '90s-set "Schooled," on its way) after "The Goldbergs" (1980s) and "Fresh off the Boat" (1990s).

It's hard to blame the alphabet network for wanting to take another trip down memory lane. As a society, we're constantly looking to the past, be it for inspiration, for escapism or in order to better understand the present. Plus, the fashion, music and tech of days gone by are always sources of entertainment and interest. This fascination with the past has led Hollywood to be dominated by nostalgia, with both the big screen and the small churning out period piece after period piece.

ABC struck gold with "The Goldbergs" and "Fresh off the Boat," and much like these comedies, "The Kids Are Alright" is based on the childhood of its creator. "Kids" follows the ups and downs of Mike (Michael Cudlitz, "The Walking Dead") and Peggy Cleary (Mary McCormack, "In Plain Sight") and their eight wild boys in 1970s suburban Los Angeles.

Creator/writer/executive producer Tim Doyle ("Last Man Standing") grew up in a large, traditional Irish Catholic family. After regaling ABC executives with hilarious tales of his youth, Doyle was given the opportunity to present these stories to the masses. At New York's annual PaleyFest, he talked at length about wanting to properly document the era and to "show audiences a believable depiction of family life during that period."

Beyond Doyle's writing and producing duties, he also narrates in voiceover as an older Timmy, the fifth of eight children and completely ignored. The younger version of Timmy is played by the wonderful up-and-comer Jack Gore ("Billions").

Growing up in the 1970s has provided Doyle with wonderful stories, but the decade wasn't all roses. It was a turbulent time in America, and it's the perfect setting for a family comedy. As Bob Dylan famously said, "The Times They Are a-Changin'," and after this decade, the Clearys -- and the country -- will never be the same.

Doyle discussed this earlier this year at the ATX Television Festival in Austin, Texas, saying, "They're trying to hold on to the values in this house, and the outside world keeps coming in."

Raising boys is no picnic. Raising eight boys in a working-class neighborhood is a monumental challenge. With Mike and Peggy often working long hours and doing everything in their power to provide for an immense family, the gaggle of rambunctious boys are often left to their own devices and spend their days with little supervision.

Mary McCormack stars in "The Kids Are Alright"

Mary McCormack stars in "The Kids Are Alright"

The series will continuously explore the relationship between siblings at home and focus on the dynamic between the brothers and between kids and parents. We'll follow various groupings of the boys as they strike out on adventures together or have heated exchanges with their mother. Many of these exchanges and arguments take place during chaotic family dinners, which are described as the glue of the ensemble comedy.

It's during one of these dinner scenes that the household is turned upside down and things get complicated for the family. After returning home, the eldest Cleary boy, Lawrence (Sam Straley, "Chicago P.D."), announces that he has decided to quit the seminary and embark on a quest to save the world. Naturally, this noble mission isn't well received.

In an interview with Variety, series star Cudlitz explained that the Cleary patriarch isn't one dimensional or a stereotype. He's not just a grumpy dad -- even if it would be completely believable and understandable if that was the case, with eight boys running amok. "There is a certain gruffness to him [...] but there's also a really caring side to him. He really tries to reach in and connect with his kids," the actor said. Like the relationships between the brothers, papa Cleary's soft side will be explored throughout the series.

Along with ignored middle child Timmy and the recently returned Lawrence, the Cleary brood includes Eddie (Caleb Martin Foote, "American Horror Story"), Frank (Sawyer Barth, "Public Morals"), Joey (Christopher Paul Richards, "Me, Myself and I"), William (Andy Walken, "A Christmas Story Live! ") and Pat (Santino Barnard, "Grey's Anatomy").

ABC has always excelled at family comedies, from "Full House" and "Home Improvement" to "Modern Family" and "Black-ish," and "The Kids Are Alright" looks to continue this streak. With 10 people, three bedrooms and one bathroom, the Cleary household is not for the weak. Tune in to the premiere of the new sitcom, airing Tuesday Oct. 16, on ABC, to witness the amusing chaos.