Parker Posey, Lauren Ambrose, ...

The Return of Jezebel James

Amy Sherman-Palladino had exquisite timing with Gilmore Girls, an of-the-moment, hyperarticulate, pop culture-referencing take on women that was as witty as it was charming. Now that the national obsession is babies — from Juno’s to Brangelina’s — she offers up The Return of Jezebel James, a sitcom about a career woman looking to park her egg in her sister’s uterus. The timing, again, is perfect — it’s the tone that’s off.

The charmless Jezebel stars Parker Posey as Sarah, a children’s-book editor who’s over 35, single, and infertile. It’s a sympathetic situation for an unsympathetic character, Sarah being yet another of Posey’s shrill, brittle women (see: You’ve Got Mail, Best in Show, et al.). Sarah’s sister, Coco (Six Feet Under‘s Lauren Ambrose), is a recovering addict whose home is a friend’s couch. Ambrose seems befuddled by Coco, but that’s hardly her fault — Jezebel is full of slippery notions. Such as, why ask your estranged, ne’er-do-well sister to be your surrogate? And why should Coco accept? It can’t just be for the nice digs and free cable.

Sherman-Palladino forces the sisters on each other out of an almost crippling sense of joint self-interest that’s as painful as it is illogical. Supposedly, the two bond when Sarah tells Coco the name of her new book series: Jezebel James, after Coco’s childhood imaginary friend. It’s weak grounds for motherhood, and even weaker for comedy. C-

The Return of Jezebel James
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