Family Tree

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  • TV-MA
  • 2013
  • 1 Season
  • 7.4  (3,623)

Family Tree is a comedy television series produced by HBO that aired from May to July 2013. The show stars Chris O'Dowd, a celebrated actor who had previously showcased his talent in the TV series The IT Crowd and the film Bridesmaids. The plot of Family Tree follows Tom Chadwick (played by O'Dowd), a recently unemployed and single thirty-something who is searching for his identity after the sudden death of his great aunt Victoria. Tom is an endearing and relatable character whose journey of self-discovery forms the basis of the show. The series is set in both London and Los Angeles, which provides an interesting setting for the story.

Tom initially finds a chest of belongings belonging to his late great aunt Victoria that contains clues about his family, which sparks his curiosity. The discovery spurs Tom on to undertake a journey across the United States and Europe, unraveling secrets of his ancestral history from family stories and a fascinating network of secondary characters. While Tom’s journey is at times serendipitous, the discoveries he makes lead to crucial decisions for his future.

The cast of Family Tree is carefully constructed to support Tom’s quest. He is joined by his sister Bea (Nina Conti), who provides comic relief but also serves as a grounding force and exercises influence on Tom. Together they explore their family history and visit far-flung relatives who may be able to shed light on their family's past. Bea’s anthropomorphic monkey hand puppet Monkey is one of the show’s standout characters and provides a quirky and fun element to the story.

One of the strengths of Family Tree is its ensemble cast, featuring notable performances by actors such as Ed Begley Jr. (Saturday Night Live, Arrested Development), Fred Willard (Fernwood 2Night, Waiting for Guffman), and Michael McKean (Spinal Tap, Better Call Saul). All of these remarkable supporting actors make appearances throughout the series, and each has their own interesting story to tell. The cast also includes other well-known actors, including Christopher Guest, whom O'Dowd has previously worked with.

Family Tree is a highly visual show, and the production is beautifully shot. The series uses real-life locations as backdrops and features period costumes and props that add a layer of authenticity to the narrative. The show also features reenactments that depict family events and stories in comical ways, providing a lighthearted and humorous tone that emphasizes the show's whimsical nature.

The comedy aspect of Family Tree is something that will attract viewers quickly. The humor is eccentric and quirky, but overall, it is lovely and charming. The comedy is never forced or cringe-worthy and still manages to explore the themes of family, heritage, and identity. The show’s creator, Christopher Guest (Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show), also brings his own unique directorial voice, delivering a distinctive style of humor that is offbeat, humane, and poignant.

The final and perhaps most significant strength of Family Tree is its heart. At its core, the show is about the importance of family, friendship, and acceptance. Tom’s story is a universal one; he is a character who is struggling to find his place in the world, something that everyone can relate to. Through this series, Tom explores his family's history in a way that ultimately leads him to become more comfortable with who he is. The show's focus on exploring and treasuring one's ancestors and family roots is a message that resonates with viewers, making Family Tree a series that stands out.

Overall, Family Tree is a beautifully shot show that blends humor, warmth, and genuine emotion to create a deeply satisfying viewing experience. Despite only having one season, the show will leave you feeling fulfilled and content, with its thoughtful and funny story about self-discovery and finding one's place in the world.

Family Tree is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (10 episodes). The series first aired on May 12, 2013.

Family Tree
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Invitation to the Set
10. Invitation to the Set
April 29, 2013
Join 'Family Tree' creator Christopher Guest and the cast of his new HBO comedy series on the set in this featurette.
9. Trailer
April 8, 2013
From Christopher Guest ('Best in Show') comes this comical HBO series about one man's quest to unearth his genealogy.
8. Cowboys
July 7, 2013
Tom and Ally meet Tom's distant cousin Melvin Schmelff, whose grandfather was Tumbleweed Tim, a famous silent-movie cowboy star.
7. Indians
June 30, 2013
Tom rents a classic convertible car and has lunch with Ally. Bea and Pete arrive to share Tom's last two weeks in America.
Civil War
6. Civil War
June 23, 2013
Tom's cousin Rick, an American Civil War enthusiast, assists Tom on his quest for knowledge about his great-great-grandfather Charles' involvement in the war.
Welcome To America
5. Welcome To America
June 16, 2013
Tom heads to the U.S. to visit his cousins, Al and Kitty Chadwick, in Los Angeles, in his quest to find out why his great-great-grandfather Charles left America for England, as well as to meet other family members.
Country Life
4. Country Life
June 9, 2013
Tom finally has a job interview. He also finds out he has cousins in both Derbyshire and California, and intends to visit and learn more about the Derbyshire branch of the family tree.
The Austerity Games
3. The Austerity Games
June 2, 2013
Tom delves deeper into the life of his grandfather William, and believes he may have competed in the 1948 London "Austerity Games," a far cry from those of 2012.
Treading the Boards
2. Treading the Boards
May 19, 2013
Tom and Pete head to the south coast of England, where Harry passed away many years prior. They encounter Sybil, an impossibly old woman who still lives next door to the house Harry lived in and remembers him from her childhood.
The Box
1. The Box
May 12, 2013
Tom Chadwich is shocked to receive an old chest of curios from his great-aunt Victoria after she passes away because he has no recollection of ever meeting her. Inside he discovers an old black-and-white photo that his father believes is Tom's great-grandfather, Harry.
Where to Watch Family Tree
Family Tree is available for streaming on the HBO website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch Family Tree on demand at HBO NOW, Google Play and Apple TV.
  • Premiere Date
    May 12, 2013
  • IMDB Rating
    7.4  (3,623)