‘Life in Pieces’: Funny Family Dysfunction Across Generations

Life In Pieces
Neil Jacobs/CBS
"Interrupts Date Breast Movin" -- Behind the scenes photo from family scene at John and Joan's house of Life in Pieces for the CBS Television Network. Pictured L-R, Zoe Lister Jones as Jen, Colin Hanks as Greg, James Brolin as John, Giselle Eisenberg as Sophia, Betsy Brandt as Heather, Dan Bakkedahl as Tim, Niall Cunningham as Tyler, Holly Barrett as Samantha, Thomas Sadoski as Matt and Diane Wiest as Joan, shown. Photo: Neil Jacobs/CBS ©2015 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Fall TV PreviewMeet the Shorts. The tales of this multigenerational family, based loosely on creator Justin Adler’s own loving but slightly dysfunctional clan, will be divided into four different stories each week. “It’s really like Looney Tunes,” Adler says. “You have this melting pot of characters, and you never know which permutation you’re going to get.” Here’s how each member fits into the family.

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Played By James Brolin

Family Ties The head of the Short family can be a bit of a narcissist, but he’s also fun and gregarious. “I don’t think people are expecting someone like Jim Brolin to be playing someone this goofy,” Adler says, “but he’s a goofy guy.”


Played By Dianne Wiest

Family Ties Adler warns us not to be fooled by the endearing facade Wiest constructed for matriarch Joan: “She’s more savvy than people think. It’s presented with a sugary sweetness, but there’s some bite underneath.”


Played By Colin Hanks

Family Ties Greg, the baby of the family, and his wife, Jen, are modeled on Adler (also the youngest) and his real-life wife. The couple just had their first child, but to Jen’s consternation, Greg is still a bit of a mama’s boy.


Played By Zoe Lister-Jones

Family Ties “Jen is a little type A,” Adler says. “She drives Greg.” The two are a perfect match, with Jen providing the right contrast to Joan’s mothering. Now, if only her in-laws could remember her name.



Played By Thomas Sadoski

Family Ties Middle child Matt, recovering from a career setback, is temporarily crashing in Mom and Dad’s garage. “Moving back home always lasts longer than grown children think it will,” Adler says.

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Played By Dan Bakkedahl

Family Ties Far from being the usual disdainful son-in-law, Tim still feels grateful to the Shorts for welcoming him into their family. Adler says we’ll learn just why he’s so thankful later in the season.


Played By Betsy Brandt

Family TiesThe eldest sibling is an ambitious perfectionist who gave up her career to be the perfect mom. You want a tuna sandwich? “She’ll grill you a slab of tuna and mash it up,” Adler says.

Tyler, Samantha and Sophia

Played By Niall Cunningham, Holly J. Barrett and Giselle Eisenberg

Family Ties Heather and Tim must accept that their kids are growing up (Tyler heads to college, Samantha gets her period, Sophia learns the truth about Santa). Adler sympathizes. “My wife and I were like, ‘We just need to care about each other, because our kids will leave us.’”







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Life in Pieces, Monday, Sept. 21, 8:30/7:30c, CBS