Through Thicke and Thin – with Alan Thicke

Alan Thicke is a reality star — but it’s not what you think. What often comes to mind at the mention of reality television is the opposite of reality: phony drama wrapped in intoxicating eye candy. It’s a common perception of the industry, one that Thicke himself even confesses to holding.

“[My family and I] had been offered a few reality possibilities before, but none of us were comfortable doing anything combative or belligerent,” Thicke says over the phone from his Los Angeles ranch, where Unusually Thicke is filmed. (The cameras are rolling on the floor below him as he speaks). “We were only going to be comfortable doing a reality show if we could make it a genuine, warm, family kind of thing that was also amusing. We wanted it to be light and real.”

Unsurprising words, coming from the media’s ultimate family man. Thicke’s name has become synonymous with fatherhood throughout his career and personal life, having portrayed beloved father figure Jason Seaver on the ’80s small-screen smash hit Growing Pains, written two sidesplitting parenting books and, of course, parented three kids of his own (one of them being pop royalty Robin Thicke).

So a compromise came to be. The producers met the family halfway by creating what Thicke refers to as a “hybrid” program — a cross between a reality show and a sitcom. It’s something, Thicke says, that is between Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm and Keeping Up with the Kardashians. “The idea was to take real stories from our real life and portray them with a bit of a wink,” says the native of Kirkland Lake, Ont., who stars in the show alongside his wife, Tanya Callau Thicke, and youngest son, 16-year-old Carter. “We would act them out to tell more of a story in a traditional sitcom-type format.”

With Unusually Thicke officially landing on North American screens this April, Thicke waits to see if this unorthodox concept will be a hit or a miss. But never mind the reviews — according to the star, it was all the quality time that made this experience a successful one. “The television thing is always fun, but it was really getting that experience with my family that was the point of it all,” says Thicke, who’s also the comedic brains behind the Huffington Post’s blog Boomer Monologues. “Carter has suddenly, at 16, hit teenage life with a vengeance. There’s cars, girls, parties — and it’s been great for me to be able to do something with him that was fun for the two of us, besides playing hockey together.”

Thicke’s familial zeal is a theme woven throughout the show, and is especially prevalent in an episode that tells the tale of Connor’s yard sale, which, naturally, results in his father’s hesitance to let go of some of his dust-ridden treasures. It’s relatable yet entertaining snapshots like these that have persuaded even the most reluctant of realty-TV viewers to tune in and watch as the Thicke family ties become family knots, bumps, laughs and feuds.

Unusually Thicke premieres on Slice April 16 at 10 p.m.

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Amanda Storey

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