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American Housewife is an ABC Dom Com created by Sarah Dunn and starring Katy Mixon and Diedrich Bader.

Katie Otto is an average American housewife who, along with her husband Greg, tries her best to provide a good home for her three children. Unfortunately, the Ottos live in Westport, an extremely wealthy suburb where everyone is seemingly perfect and live lifestyles that are well beyond the Ottos' more modest means. In this environment, Katie has her hands full trying to keep her two eldest children from turning into complete brats while helping her youngest cope with OCD.

After receiving a full 22-episode season order on November 4, 2016, ABC ordered an additional episode a month later for a total of 23 episodes. The show was renewed for a second season on May 11, 2017. A third season order was announced on May 11, 2018. The fourth season premiered in its new Friday night time slot on September 27, 2019. Mid-season, the show was announced to be moving to Wednesdays and the timeslot vacated by Modern Family, airing immediately after it for several weeks starting on March 18, 2020; the 21-episode order was pared down to 20 with the industry-wide cancellation of filming due to the coronavirus outbreak. A fifth season order was announced on May 21, 2020. It will return in yet another new timeslot, Wednesdays at 8:30, whenever the continued pandemic allows.

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This series provides examples of:

  • Absurd Phobia: Anna-Kat develops a fear of water that causes her to stop showering.
  • Adorkable: Greg is endearingly awkward and has certain character tics that Katie finds amusing. For example, before writing a paper, he will strike a power pose (for confidence), listen to jazz (to unlock his brain's creative centers), eat exactly seven almonds (for energy), and drink a glass of port (to loosen up) before going to work.
  • Adult Fear: The main plot in "Bigger Kids, Bigger Problems" concerns Taylor getting birth control. Katie freaks, especially since Taylor is now legally an adult and can't be easily controlled anymore. Greg tries to be more relaxed, but the idea of his daughter having sex unnerves him.
  • Alternate Timeline: "Sliding Sweaters", a spoof of Sliding Doors, has two timelines based on which color sweater Katie buys. If she buys a pink sweater, she has a good day; if she buys a blue one, she has a bad day. The Stinger includes a third timeline where she buys a green jacket instead and gets pregnant, followed by her deciding not to buy anything and just wear something old.
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  • American Title: What is Katie? An American housewife.
  • Ballet Episode: In the first season finale, the whole family attends Oliver's ballet recital. Much to their amusement, Oliver is in a beginners' class and his co-performers are little girls half his age.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Taylor (as played in the pilot) is at an age where she's rebelling against her parents and, due to the influence of her classmates, thinks that she should focus on landing a rich husband rather than improving herself. Greg eventually shames her into studying and improving her grades. (See also Early Installment Weirdness below)
  • A Boy, a Girl, and a Baby Family: A variant where the "baby" is older (but still a little girl). When the series begins, Taylor is 14, Oliver is 12, and Anna-Kat is seven.
  • Chained Heat: In "Sliding Sweaters", Katie handcuffs Oliver and Taylor together until they get along.
  • Christmas Episode: Once a Season:
    • "Krampus Katie" (Season 1): Katie chafes at being considered by Anna-Kat to be like Krampus and struggles to prove otherwise. Greg takes Taylor and Oliver to a retirement home, where his attempts at teaching Christmas lessons fail.
    • "Blue Christmas" (Season 2): Doris goes into labor on Christmas Day, but her family is stuck out of town, so Katie juggles being there for her at the hospital and maintaining Otto family traditions. Meanwhile, Greg faces his latest round of hypochondria, while Taylor and Oliver grapple with relationship troubles.
    • "Saving Christmas" (Season 3): Katie's beloved father Marty makes a surprise visit for the holidays, even though he knows his ex-wife has been staying with the Ottos. They reconcile, surprisingly enough, when Katie's mom admits she's been envious of the happy relationship Katie and Greg have.
    • "The Bromance Before Christmas" (Season 4): Greg's long-lost half-brother from his father's secret family in England is invited to visit the Ottos by Katie, much to Greg's dismay.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: "The Nap" builds to this. Katie punishes Oliver's attempt at insider trading by making him pick up trash along the street like a prisoner would. Also, because Taylor had been overloading on class work and activities, Katie punishes her by not letting her help pick up trash and making her relax instead.
  • Continuity Nod: Oliver suffers a humiliating moment at ballet while practicing lifts with Gina Tuscadero, who is called out by name so that Katie can make a Happy Days joke and is otherwise neither seen (other than her legs) nor heard. A few episodes later, Taylor helps Oliver with his relationship woes. The girl in question? Gina.
  • Deconstruction: The show consistently, albeit subtly, deconstructs many Dom Com and family sitcom tropes:
    • Anna-Kat's OCD is portrayed realistically, subverting the Super OCD trope. Her condition is treated by the school therapist, averting There Are No Therapists, and she is shown growing out of it as she ages and gets the treatment she needs.
    • Artistic License – University Admissions is averted hard, with Oliver and Taylor shown to put in lots of work to get into the schools of their choice, perhaps more than any other teens in a family sitcom. Oliver in particular starts taking extracurriculars several years ahead of his application.
    • Katie's loner status in the community gets hit with this in the second season premiere. After she attempts an online apology for faking her pregnancy to the other mothers, one of them confronts her and states that the real reason they have so many problems with her is because of how she treats them; her judgment and resentment toward their lifestyle, healthy eating habits and volunteering for things at school has been rubbing them the wrong way for a long while. Katie attempts yet again to make amends, but has to resort to volunteering for a Gala after failing to make a proper apology.
    • Oliver's status as a Spoiled Brat is also taken apart. Not only does Katie defend him to a snotty ballet teacher who thinks this, but by him showing a genuine interest and effort in ballet, Oliver becomes the only kid in the Otto family willingly doing anything related to school/extra-curricular activities.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Taylor's character changed significantly between the pilot and the second episode. In the pilot, as played by Johnny Sequoyah, she was on her way to becoming an entitled brat, much like her friends. For most of the first season, as played by Meg Donnelly, she was a tomboy athlete. From the second season on, she lost interest in athletics and gravitated toward music.
  • Evil Vegetarian: Tara Summers, who convinces Anna-Kat to become a vegan as retaliation for Taylor convincing Eyo, Taylor’s boyfriend and Tara’s son, to follow his dreams of being a cartoon artist instead of an anesthesiologist.
  • Fake Pregnancy: Katie does this to get out of mandatory volunteer work at school. She's exposed by Anna-Kat, who was intentionally trying to fall out of favor with Katie.
  • Fan Convention: Katie visits one in New York hoping to convince Nathan Fillion to attend her Spring Gala, riding an elephant, as she promised to the committee.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Pierce seems like a nice guy on the surface, but his knowing smile after Taylor breaks up with Trip shows that he knew exactly what he was doing.
  • Fiction 500: The Bradfords. Everybody (except the Ottos of course) in Westport is filthy rich, but the Bradfords are to them what everybody else is to the Ottos.
  • Fire-Breathing Diner: Jealous of the attention Taylor’s boyfriend was receiving from Greg while helping him with the Otto family’s secret chili recipe, Oliver uses an insanely hot ghost pepper to sabotage their chili. However, Oliver was distracted when warned of the delayed effects and ends up consuming the chili when he thinks he got a dud pepper.
  • Foreshadowing: In season two, one of the moms that bully Katie tells another mom that her diet pills are actually speed and to calm down. In the finale, it's revealed that her drugs are making her sabotage the other moms' work on the spring gala.
  • Freudian Trio: The Second Breakfast Club, with Katie as The Kirk, Doris as The Spock, and Angela as The McCoy.
  • Friend Versus Lover: In "All Coupled Up", Oliver's best friend Cooper and his new girlfriend Gina clash instantly (because of their very different backgrounds) and Cooper forces Oliver to choose between them. Oliver chooses Gina, leading a despondent Cooper to approach Katie (who was thrilled that she wouldn't have to deal with him anymore) to help him change his ways. At episode's end, Cooper approaches Oliver and Gina attempting to put the lessons he learned into practice, and though he isn't entirely successful, Oliver is so moved by the gesture that he goes to bat for him and asks Gina if she'll accept him. She does. Amusingly, Oliver and Gina would eventually break up and Cooper would continue to strengthen his bromance with Oliver as the years went on, meaning that although he may have lost the battle, he won the war in the end.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: This moment from the second season premiere:
    Katie: Oliver, honey, you really have been working your butt off.
    Oliver: What do you think I'm doing in my room every night with the door closed?
    Oliver: Mom!
    Katie: You're 13! I don't know!
  • The Ghost: Several.
    • Greg's oft-mentioned friend on the Recycling Committee at Westport Unified, Bill Doty. Finally seen in season four, played by none other than Diedrich Bader's old The Drew Carey Show castmate, Ryan Stiles.
    • Cooper Bradford's parents, the richest couple in Westport, have never been seen in person, to emphasize Cooper's isolation from them.
  • Good Parents: Katie and Greg, to the point that Oliver and Taylor begrudgingly admit they're turning out to be good people largely because of their influence.
  • Grand Romantic Gesture:
    • Katie is annoyed by Greg's over-the-top celebration of Valentine's Day, which previously included horse-drawn carriages, minivans full of stuffed animals, and lots of confetti.
    • Greg's skill with elaborate romantic gestures comes in handy when Oliver's first date with Gina Tuscadero bombs. The Ottos (and Taylor's dim-witted boyfriend) recreate the lantern scene from Tangled, her favorite movie.
  • Half-Arc Season:
    • Throughout season 2, Katie's plans for organizing the Westport Spring Gala inform the plots of several episodes, starting with the premiere and concluding with the finale.
    • In the premiere of season 4, Taylor is given a list of tasks she must complete in order to prove she can function as an adult. Many of her subplots throughout the season feature her attempting to complete one or more of those tasks. The last - teach Greg to throw a three-pointer in basketball - features in the season finale.
  • Halloween Episode: Once a Season:
    • "Westport Zombies" (Season 1): As preparations for the Westport Zombie Run game ramps up, Katie gets jealous of Taylor bonding with Viv and worries she'll become a snob.
    • "Boo-Who?" (Season 2): Every year, neighbors place gift baskets at each other's houses, and Katie thinks she's finally gotten one and been accepted. Meanwhile, Oliver Screams Like a Little Girl and worries about going to the local haunted house with his friends, so Anna-Kat repeatedly tries scaring him so he'll kick the habit.
    • "Trust Me" (Season 3): Katie has planned a Halloween party which is attended by Oliver and Cooper, who plan on playing Seven Minutes in Heaven with Gina and her cousin. However, Viv is also in attendance, and any makeout plans are kiboshed when she goes into labor. Meanwhile, Taylor lies that a party she'll be attending will have adult supervision, and Greg decides to let this play out and see what happens.
    • "The Maze" (Season 4): For one reason or another, all of the Ottos wind up going through the haunted Halloween maze - except for Taylor, who finds herself being pursued by a relentless driver.
  • High-School Dance: The season finale of Season 4, appropriately titled "Prom."
  • Hilarious Outtakes: In every season finale thus far, a blooper reel plays over the end credits.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine:
    • Milo Manheim, Meg Donnelly's co-star in Z-O-M-B-I-E-S, gets a recurring role in the third season as Pierce, the actor who plays Seymour in the school's production of Little Shop of Horrors, who frequently rehearses with her even though she's only playing Plant Bud #3.
    • The subplot in "Bigger Kids, Bigger Problems" reunites Diedrich Bader with castmates from The Drew Carey Show. Kathy Kinney plays a cantankerous lunch lady that Greg is at odds with on recycling, while Drew Carey and Ryan Stiles play Greg's environmentally-minded friends. The episode premiered during ABC's Cast From the Past Week, which was built on this trope.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Oliver develops one with an 80s Wall Street broker named Spencer, who mentors him in how to be successful. Unfortunately, it's a short one, as Spencer dies.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Played with.
    • Fittingly averted by Katie, who attended Duke University (a fine school, but not an Ivy), where she got a bachelor's degree in marketing. This is where she met Greg, at the time a graduate student who was working as a TA in one of the classes she was taking.
    • Greg is a tenured college history professor, though the name of the college he teaches at isn't stated. But it's near Westport, and it isn't Yale, so it's not an Ivy.
    • Overachieving Oliver has his sights set on Harvard, but he's fully cognizant of the hurdles he'll have to jump in order to get accepted - along with maintaining a strong GPA, he's shown taking ballet classes to take advantage of a perpetual need for male ballet students in Harvard's ballet program (starting at age 13) and later on begins volunteering at a teen helpline to fill out his extracurriculars. Strangely he only seems interested in Harvard despite another highly-regarded Ivy, Yale, being less than an hour's drive from Westport.
    • Taylor meanwhile applies to the music program at a (real) non-Ivy, Carnegie Mellon. She gets in, but pretends she was rejected so she can raise money to pay her tuition. Again, she is shown going through a lot of hoops to get admitted, starting with filming and sending in an audition tape, and then being interviewed by an alum, an interview she nearly bombs until she impresses him at the last minute with a life skills checklist her father made her prepare.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Oliver can be a brat at times, but he cashed out his business partner, Viv's housekeeper Luz, using his savings so she could return to her native country and be with her young daughter.
    • Takes after Katie, who is often rude and irrational and sarcastic, but cares a lot about her family (especially Anna-Kat) and hates how materialistic and phony Newport is.
  • Lady Drunk: Katie's mom, who is often seen with a drink in her hand.
  • Local Hangout: Stewart & Kingston's, where the Second Breakfast Club meets every morning.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Katie confronts Greg when she gets suspicious and finds a receipt for a bar in Greg's wallet. Turns out he was secretly seeing Celeste — Angela's ex — who was helping him with his book.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Katie thought that Oliver was gay after discovering a vision board hidden in his closet filled with guys in expensive clothing, guys without shirts, and Ashton Kutcher. It continues further when they see him acting with Eko.
    Greg: He's either as good an actor as Ian McKellen, or he's as gay as Ian Mc Kellen.
  • Moral Event Horizon: In-Universe, Katie may have have finally crossed this. She pretended to be pregnant in order to avoid the other moms in Westport. Thanks to Anna-Kat, this backfired and she will have to deal with the consequences in the second season.
  • Musical Episode: The third season finale "A Mom Parade". Lampshaded by Katie.
    Katie: Yeah, it's a musical. Deal with it.
  • My Beloved Smother: Katie's family calls her "Colonel Beatrice von Beige Underpants Control Freak" behind her back. Or just "the Colonel" for short.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: Viv.
  • Narrator: Katy Mixon narrates in-character as Katie Otto. However, she's not an omniscient narrator and only narrates over her own scenes, so it functions more as an inner monologue.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Greg and Katie get paranoid about Taylor spending all of her free time with a new guy instead of her boyfriend and think that he is trying to ruin the relationship. They then feed their paranoia to him, which leads to him yellng at Taylor and demanding that she quit the play. She dumps him instead.
    • Even worse? Greg turns out to be right in the end!
  • Once an Episode: Katie has second breakfast with Doris and Angela and discusses her problems with them. Generally the only scene in which Doris or Angela appear in the episode, but occasionally either or both will have a larger role. On more than one occasion the characters have gone to the restaurant only to not be served breakfast - once when they went on a Saturday and they were stuck in a long line, and again when they had an emergency meeting on Thanksgiving and sat outside as the place was closed.
  • One Steve Limit: Tragicomically averted in "Family Secrets" when it turns out that Greg has a secret half-brother named Greg because their father didn't want to get caught having an affair by calling one son by the wrong name.
    • In "Field Day" Suzanne introduces Katie to another Katie. When the other mothers try and tell them apart she suggests being referred to as "Katie O" but the other Katie says that won't work either as her name is Katie Owens.
  • Overprotective Dad: Initially intending on spying on Anna-Kat during her solo walk to the library, Greg gets distracted and crashes the drone into Taylor when he sees her with her boyfriend, Eyo.
  • Papa Wolf: In Season 1's Christmas Episode, a Prima Donna Director is demanding absolutely perfect singing from Anna-Kat's class during the performance, which makes the kids all uncomfortable and nervous on stage. Just when Katie is about to say something, Greg stands up and yells at the guy for treating Anna-Kat and the other kids badly.
  • Parental Favoritism: Katie has a clear pecking order: Anna-Kat > Taylor > Oliver. She's blatant and unapologetic in favoring Anna-Kat over her other two children.
  • Poor Little Rich Kid: Cooper's parents are the wealthiest couple in Westport - so rich even all the other rich people fawn over them. But tellingly, both are unseen characters who are completely neglectful of their son, and Cooper is so desperate to be parented that he's latched onto Katie as a surrogate mother, and relishes her tough love approach. In later seasons he even starts referring to Katie and Greg as "Mom and Dad".
  • Product Placement: Season 2's "Selling Out" (no pun intended) has Greg ditching his old Accord for a new Toyota Camry. Cementing the placement, an actual commercial for the Camry aired during the next ad break.
  • Real Women Have Curves: For early episodes, the show played this straight, with large Katie having more common sense and wit, and putting down all the other mothers for being thin. In later episodes, the show begins to deconstruct this (see Deconstruction above for more), saying that it's not right for Katie to be rude to them just because they happen to be slender.
  • Reality Ensues: See Deconstruction.
  • Relaxo Vision: In "Disconnected" Anna-Kat tells her parents a dirty joke but we don't hear the bulk of it as dramatic music plays over it, coupled with Greg and Katie's mortified expressions.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons:
    • In "All Coupled Up" from Season 2, Oliver changes his ways in order to not scare Gina off for seeing him as the usual selfish jerk and ends up ending his friendship with Cooper for acting the exact same way. However, the lesson is instead being learned by Cooper for learning to be better himself rather than Oliver for pushing his friend away just for being himself when that was not really what he himself was doing.
    • In Season 3’s "The Code", Gina gets into the prestigious ballet school when Oliver did not and this is after they made the agreement that if one of them did not go, the other one would not either. Rather than be happy for her anyway, Oliver insists she honor their deal (which neither of them should have made in the first place), but Gina knowing it is a big opportunity for her that she cannot pass up, goes anyway.
  • Say My Name: Katie's Catchphrase is a short, sharp shriek of "GREG!". Both of her daughters have been known to imitate her doing this.
  • Secret Other Family: Greg's dad has one, and the son is even named Greg so he won't mix them up.
  • Ship Tease: During the song sequence of "You Can Do You" from "A Mom's Parade", Taylor and Cooper are often trading very admiring looks with each other and probably share way more physical contact (arm touching, arm on shoulder and hand holding) than any other characters in that scene. There's also the singing right after each other and standing next to each other for large portions too.
  • Skipping School: Katie cuts out of the French immersion class she joined to prove to Greg that she wasn't a quitter. She's caught red-handed by Greg when he lets his class — held next door and only consisting of one student — out early.
  • Show Within a Show: Anna-Kat's Real Horsewives of Connecticut starring Donnatello Morningstar. Trip is genuinely interested. Pierce, not so much.
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: The Ottos, with their humble lower-middle class values, are frequently at odds with the more upper-class Newport citizens. Specifically, Katie's rivalry with next-door neighbor Viv.
  • Spanner in the Works: Katie, with her outspoken common sense views and values, is a highly disruptive force within Westport. In fact, the Ottos were given such a good deal on their house because their landlady was sick and tired of the town's superficiality that she wanted to see its smug housewives get taken down a few pegs.
  • Stereotype Flip: A common conceit, consistent with the show's pattern of deconstructing tropes:
    • This being a Dom Com, you'd expect the married couple to consist of an overweight, opinionated, politically-incorrect, quick-to-anger sports fanatic and an intelligent, studious, sensitive, and progressive bookworm. And you'd be right, except the former is the wife and the latter is the husband, instead of the other way round.
    • Angela turns the "nesting lesbian" stereotype on its head by being the only adult female character who isn't married for a good chunk of the show's run, and indeed she is shown to dislike relationships in general, preferring casual hookups.
    • In a town where all of the rich people are obsessed with their (and everyone else's) status and fortunes, the wealthiest character of all (Cooper Bradford) is also the one who cares least about how much money everyone else has.
  • Super OCD: Anna-Kat has OCD and the condition is presented realistically, albeit humorously. The Ottos moved to Westport because the local school has a special needs program that provides Anna-Kat with the extra attention she needs and Katie is often helping her daughter with various coping exercises so Anna-Kat won't completely fall into her rituals.
    • If Greg gets interrupted while working, he has to start his ritual described under Adorkable all over again. In the episode where this was shown he had to reboot so many times, he got too drunk to work.
  • Take That!: Greg delivers a furious rant against Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, declaring that it makes no sensenote .
    Greg: Batman, the world's greatest detective, doesn't know Superman's weakness until Lex Luthor tells him! There are five dream sequences in the movie! None of them reveal anything about any character! And most importantly: Superman has heat vision! He should have melted Batman in the first act—movie over!
  • Take This Job and Shove It: Thinking they are inheriting Spencer's wealth, Greg lets loose on the tenure board. Luckily, they found his brazen attitude refreshing, especially when Greg learns they've inherited nothing.
  • Thanksgiving Episode:
    • "The Blow-Up" (Season 1): Katie has to grapple with her mother coming over to visit, how Anna-Kat reacts to their arguing, and Viv being an unexpected guest.
    • "Family Secrets" (Season 2): Greg's parents are coming to dinner, and he is desperate to impress his father and make everything perfect.
  • The Unfavorite: Katie very openly finds Oliver to be her most frustrating child and will loudly talk about how she hates his behavior and Upper-Class Twit aspirations.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Inverted, Katie is consistently described as the "second-fattest housewife in Westport" and her husband Greg is a tall, fairly strapping man who is fawned over by many of the women in town (particularly Doris). In reality, Katy Mixon and Diedrich Bader are about evenly matched looks-wise, a rarity for Dom Com couples.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Oliver aspires to become one, to Katie's chagrin.
  • Video Wills: Oliver's friend Spencer leaves him, Katie, and Greg one on a recycled VHS tape.
  • Weight Woe: Generally averted. Though at time she shows slight insecurities, Katie is generally very pleased with her weight.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: Katie and Greg wake up in bed after a hard night of partying with Celeste, Angela's ex. While their memories of the night are vague, Celeste's Instagram feed of them hanging out was perfectly clear, and Katie is busted by Angela.+
  • Written-In Absence: Stan Lawton was set up to be Greg's BFF in Westport but is said to have gone off on a spiritual quest after just a few appearances. This was due to actor Timothy Omundson suffering a stroke and needing to take time to recover.
  • Wrong Side of the Tracks: A milder example. Oliver's girlfriend Gina is from South Branson, a less affluent area than Westport. The clash of cultures comes to head when Cooper makes Oliver choose between him or Gina.
  • Young Entrepreneur: Oliver, upon finally realizing that his parents won't simply buy him whatever he wants, starts a lucrative career repairing and selling defective designer shirts and enlists the local housekeepers to to do the repair work.
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