WHAT IT’S ABOUT Adventures in modern family life are suddenly big — “black-ish,” “Fresh Off the Boat,” “Jim Gaffigan,” “Playing House.” But adults have non-parent lives, too, relating to each other, to friends, to bosses, to strip-club dancers and vigilante truckers.
OK, those last two are just on “The Detour,” TBS’ crazed new take on the family road trip. Beat-up minivan? Check. Birds-and-bees talk? Check. Mom and Dad getting high? Kids getting an eyeful at the Banana Creamery? Day-care drunk tank? Russian bear-fighting? Those, too.
There’s even actual mystery, as dad (series co-creator Jason Jones, “The Daily Show”) drives his upstate family south toward Florida on a “work” trip revealed to be much more complicated than mom (Natalie Zea, “Justified”) believes it to be. Police get involved. The feds launch investigations. And the couple’s already-too-aware tween daughter (Garden City’s Ashley Gerasimovich, “Louie”) and son (newcomer Liam Carroll) learn plenty more in the half-dozen episodes previewed.
MY SAY As the family careens from wacky disaster to insane calamity, the laughs come quick. So do the surprises. And instant character turns. Strippers, desk clerks and costumed restaurant performers reveal their own truths in succinct yet soul-deep vignettes. (Kudos to the casting crew.)
For all the adult content (lots), the kids are real, too — one minute spouting wiseacre, the next queasy or weepy, and then excruciatingly mortified as situations take turns they hadn’t anticipated. They’re so good, they make space for themselves in what otherwise plays as a tale of very grown-up mayhem.
Funny-smart-perceptive is what made the names of married show creators Jason Jones and Samantha Bee as “Daily Show” correspondents. (What a breakout year for them, with Bee currently killing on her own TBS current-events takedown, “Full Frontal,” Mondays at 10:30 p.m.) “The Detour” is ruthlessly adult stuff — surely too frank and out-there for some viewers — but it’s intrinsically honest, convulsively hilarious and oddly endearing.
BOTTOM LINE This detour is one wild ride.