A short-lived but very enjoyable show was The Unicorn, which aired 31 episodes over two seasons on CBS. Walton Goggins played Wade Felton, a widower with two daughters, 14-year-old Grace (played by Ruby Jay) and 12-year-old Natalie (played by Makenzie Moss). As the pilot opens, Wade is digging through a chest freezer, looking for an approprite dinner among the many that were prepared for them during his wife Jill’s hospitalization and death a year earlier. The house is a mess, dogs are sleeping on the counter, and the girls are sitting in the living room, watching TV and playing with their phones, saying “yes” or “no” toi whatever their father digs out of the freezer. Two of Wade’s friends, Forrest (played by Rob Corddry) and Delia (played by Michaela watkins) are watching the disorder in the Felton home and are worried about their friend, who seems to be living life on autopilot.
They discuss this with another couple, Ben (played by Omar Miller) and Michelle (played by Maya Lynne Robinson) and come to the conclusion that Wade needs to get back out into the world and start building a social life, specifically that he needs to dating again. A fortyish widower with an established career (he’s a landscape designer), a home, and two daughters make him a “unicorn,” considered a prime catch on the dating scene, a rare established and stable man.
Wade is reluctant at first, then on the evening he pulls the last prepared meal out of the freezer, the enormity of his situation catches up with him and leaves him practically catatonic. He agrees to complete a profile on a dating site, and when he submits it he’s bombarded with messages from women. When he tells his daughters that he intends on starting to date again, Natalie freaks out, thinking that he’s going to replace their mother. Grace calms her down, saying that their father deserves a life.
Thus begins Wade’s saga of trying to balance being home for his girls and finding love in a dating scene that has changed significantly in the twenty years he’s been out of it, all while carrying the grief that losing his wife has brought about. At times poignant, at times hilarious, we see him deal with trouble at home, disastrous dates, his struggles with introducing himself to women he sees and would like to date, breakups, being fixed up, navigating the bar scene, and so on.
One thing I appreciate is that, unlike a lot of sitcoms, Wade isn’t treated like an idiot by his daughters. He’s believable as their father, and they’re believable as sisters. In one episode, Grace is giefvn the lead role in her school play, Little Shop of Horrors, by a director who was simply trying to be nice because her mother had died. Wade at first tells her that if she wants to quit the play, it’s all right, not wanting to see his little girl look like a fool, but then reminds her that her mother would make her see it through. Naturally, she does a fantastic job as the female lead.
You can find the show on the Paramount+ application and website; I purcheased it on the Amazon Prime website. That might be the only way to see it, at least until one of the classic TV stations picks the show up, if in fact they do that. Perhaps one weekend it’ll air on the “Decades Binge.” We can only hope…