• Network: HBO
  • Series Premiere Date: May 12, 2013
  • Season #: 1
Metascore
74

Generally favorable reviews - based on 28 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 28
  2. Negative: 0 out of 28
  1. Reviewed by: Matthew Gilbert
    May 9, 2013
    80
    As with a number of moments in the completely enjoyable Family Tree, I’m not sure how the actors kept themselves from laughing.
  2. Reviewed by: Joanne Ostrow
    May 10, 2013
    70
    This series won’t change the world, or even the world of TV comedy, but it is an intriguing diversion.
  3. Reviewed by: Jeff Jensen
    May 8, 2013
    75
    Fortunately, Family Tree doesn't need its mockumentary monkey business to be affecting; it's stuffed with poignant, diverting treasure.
  4. Reviewed by: Alan Sepinwall
    May 9, 2013
    83
    Tom Chadwick is a man with a fixation that’s both reasonable and relatable, and he becomes our tour guide to the familiar, funny Christopher Guest worldview.
  5. Reviewed by: Sara Smith
    May 10, 2013
    80
    The freshest take on the single-camera mockumentary since “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
  6. Reviewed by: Robert Lloyd
    May 10, 2013
    80
    In the wonderful Family Tree, hangdog Chris O'Dowd, finding his life stalled after losing a girlfriend and a job in short order, goes in search of his roots and relatives.
  7. Reviewed by: David Hinckley
    May 10, 2013
    80
    [Genealogy] may not seem like a particularly robust thread for an eight-part series, but O’Dowd, Guest and a wonderful cast of deadpan actors and improv experts spin it into a tapestry of cheery laughter.
  8. 80
    Family Tree is less belly-laugh funny than wry and occasionally poignant.
  9. Reviewed by: Linda Stasi
    May 9, 2013
    75
    It helps to be a fan of Christopher Guest--the genius mockumentarian responsible for movies like “Best in Show” and “Waiting for Guffman”--if you’re going to love his new HBO series, Family Tree.
  10. Reviewed by: Tom Gliatto
    May 8, 2013
    88
    It is still a distinctly Guest production: often poky, always charmingly whimsical and, from time to time, so astoundingly funny you seem to have shot into a distant stratosphere of pure comedy. [13 May 2013, p.45]
  11. Reviewed by: Ellen Gray
    May 10, 2013
    80
    Along the way, Tom becomes briefly attached to potential ancestors who don't pan out or aren't quite what they first seem--a not unfamiliar experience is frequently rendered funny by just a small dollop of strangeness. Sometimes it's more than a dollop, but Family Tree doesn't dwell so long on any single absurdity to make anyone uncomfortable.
  12. Reviewed by: Rob Owen
    May 10, 2013
    60
    Sunday's premiere is pretty light on laughs. A couple of moments inspire guffaws but they are few and far between. The show's second episode offers more humor.
  13. Reviewed by: Michael Landweber
    May 13, 2013
    60
    If the plot is thin, the show does offer other pleasures, including the actors’ improv skills, revealed in subtle and hilarious flashes of genius.
  14. Reviewed by: Willa Paskin
    May 10, 2013
    50
    The results contain both fart jokes and erudition, but not so much heart. Family Tree is colder and flatter than Guest’s best work, missing its inspired kookery and high energy strangeness.
  15. Reviewed by: David Wiegand
    May 8, 2013
    75
    Just as "A Mighty Wind" and "Waiting for Guffman" aren't like traditional movies, "Family Tree" isn't like traditional sitcoms, in that there isn't a traditional setup-punch-line structure to it. It does evoke comedies such as "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Arrested Development," though, where the humor is more incremental, character-based and cumulative.
  16. Reviewed by: Bruce Miller
    May 29, 2013
    70
    This is a very quirky, specific world that could repel the very people who might love it. It's a slow go but if you're not in a hurry, it might be worth dropping by.
  17. Reviewed by: Chuck Bowen
    May 9, 2013
    75
    Like the characters who occupy Guest's best work, particularly A Mighty Wind, Tom and his friends have real stature, and the jokes often gracefully comment on their yearning to puncture the bubbles of their own self-concern to connect to others.
  18. Reviewed by: Jace Lacob
    May 30, 2013
    70
    The television mockumentary format may be reaching oversaturation. But for Family Tree, the result is nonetheless appealing, what I like to call "tea-cozy television"--nothing too precious or too taxing, but comforting to watch all the same.
  19. Reviewed by: Tom Long
    May 10, 2013
    75
    Family Tree is addictively silly stuff.
  20. Reviewed by: Tim Goodman
    May 9, 2013
    100
    A quirky and hilarious gem.
  21. Reviewed by: Mike Hale
    May 10, 2013
    70
    Family Tree can feel a little loose and inconsequential.... But that also means that we get to spend more time with Mr. Guest’s crack cast of improvisers and there are moments in each half-hour that pay off.
  22. Reviewed by: James Poniewozik
    May 10, 2013
    80
    Over the first four episodes, Family Tree doesn’t have the gut-busting, excruciatingly funny moments of Guest’s movies--no Stonehenge here--but it adds a warmth to the usual pathos of his characters, and O’Dowd’s hangdog charm is a good match for the story.
  23. Reviewed by: Matt Roush
    May 10, 2013
    70
    Like many HBO half-hours, this is a slow, slow burn to get to a payoff. The smiles here are of recognition that even the most ordinary families can have wonderfully strange roots.
  24. Reviewed by: Ed Bark
    May 9, 2013
    91
    Potentially the best new comedy series of this season.
  25. Reviewed by: Robert Bianco
    May 10, 2013
    75
    Tree is not the master at his best--it's one of those light entertainments that pass by without leaving much of a mark. But it's good-hearted and amusing.
  26. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    May 13, 2013
    50
    Guest’s approach is as much about creating atmosphere and fostering discomfort as it is about belly laughs, but there’s a difference between being droll and positively arid.
  27. Reviewed by: Nancy DeWolf Smith
    May 10, 2013
    70
    While the show is full of comic highs and witty insight, it isn't funny all the time because some of the jokes are disappointingly crude.
  28. Reviewed by: Hank Stuever
    May 10, 2013
    70
    Guest has assembled a worthy and adept ensemble of oddballs. But it remains to be seen if the story itself will catch on.
User Score
7.2

Generally favorable reviews- based on 27 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 4
  2. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. May 12, 2013
    8
    I agree with Tim Goodman completely quirky and hilarious. I'm looking forward to seeing the characters develop. It's a nice addition toI agree with Tim Goodman completely quirky and hilarious. I'm looking forward to seeing the characters develop. It's a nice addition to HBO's Sunday night lineup. Full Review »
  2. Jul 4, 2013
    4
    The actors are great and expectations are high, but it's not funny at all. Other reviewers defend or 'explain' that it's not the show's fault,The actors are great and expectations are high, but it's not funny at all. Other reviewers defend or 'explain' that it's not the show's fault, it's you, by insinuating that only those with astute and fine tuned minds for such unique humor will appreciate the nil laughs. I expected something along the lines of The Office or at least totally sarcastic and absurd, because of the the genre but that is not the case at all. Nothing much happens, and you don't particularly sympathize with anyone. Everybody is so fake nice on the show case in point how is the monkey puppet thing funny? The money 'character' insults everyone, and everyone just deals with it and takes it in stride! After watching the excellent, superb (plus many more compliments) Moone Boy I wanted so much more for Chris O'Dowd. Moone Boy is ACTUALLY funny. Full Review »
  3. Jul 2, 2013
    10
    Hilarious show! Amazing cast.
    It's not your typical sitcom with silly laugh tracks, which means that a lot people won't get the subtleties.
    Hilarious show! Amazing cast.
    It's not your typical sitcom with silly laugh tracks, which means that a lot people won't get the subtleties. Christopher Guest is a comedy genius!
    Full Review »