How ABC’s “Home Economics” Put a Twist on Its Halloween Episode

Although they might not be quite as iconic as Thanksgiving or Christmas themed installments, Halloween episodes are a sitcom staple in their own right. Yet, what makes episodes in this genre unique is that they allow shows to break out from their conventions — and, oftentimes, serve as a free-standing show with no long-serving consequences. Take, for example, The Simpsons annual “Treehouse of Horror” episodes, which are non-canonical (as if The Simpsons has any real continuity). That’s what made this week’s Halloween episode of Home Economics a bit different as it got to play on horror and thriller tropes while introducing a component to the show that’s sure to have ramifications.

By the way, spoilers for Home Economics episode “Novel Signed by Author, $22.19″ ahead.

This holiday episode finds Tom participating in a book reading and signing at a local shop, with the whole family tagging along. Well, everyone except the kids, who are too busy dressing up as characters from Encanto, but that’s another story. To nearly everyone’s surprise, the turn out for the event seems to be strong. But, there’s one attendee in particular that quickly gets the most attention: a girl named Harmony (played by the always amazing Casey Wilson of Happy Endings fame). In fact, Tom is actually already familiar with her as she seems to always be the first to comment on content about the book. Naturally, while Tom is somewhat oblivious and just happy to have a fan, the rest of the family believes Harmony is a stalker. Things only get stranger from there as she shares that she drove in from Colorado for the reading, picks an empty water bottle Tom was drinking from out of the trash, etc. However, it turns out there’s more to Harmony’s story: she believes she’s related to the Hayworths.

At first, this suggestion is dismissed as more insanity. However, as Tom reads the selection from his book, the details start to line-up. Sure enough, Harmony is indeed the half-sister to Tom, Sarah, and Connor — the result of an affair their father had back in the late eighties. In other words, expect to see more of Casey Wilson on the show (at least we can hope).

To be honest, this twist was a bit obvious for those paying attention — and especially to those who read the episode logline. Still, the show did a fairly good job at using the Halloween theming to its advantage and telling a story that proved more interesting and impactful than most episodes of this ilk. Of course, ABC did still manage to get its synergy fill with the aforementioned B-story.

It should be noted that Home Economics isn’t the only sitcom to have a Halloween episode that wasn’t a mere detour. One other example that comes to mind is the beloved Community episode “Epidemiology,” which set up a major storyline for Shirley and Chang. Still, given the constraints that typically come with this type of holiday program, props to Home Economics for doing something just a bit different.

Home Economics airs Wednesdays on ABC and can be streamed the next day on Hulu.

Kyle Burbank
Kyle is a writer living in Springfield, MO. His deep love of Disney and other pop culture finds its way into his stories, scripts, and tweets. His first book "The E-Ticket Life: Stories, Essays, and Lessons Learned from My Decidedly Disney Travels" is available in paperback and for Kindle.