Pop Culture

Sitcoms Just Don’t Do It For Me Anymore

This is the spot where I usually recap the NBC show Parenthood. This week was a re-run however, and while it was a good one, I don’t need to write about it. Instead, in thinking about the one other show I watched last night (my toddler had plans that didn’t include Glee or Raising Hope, but so it goes), I thought I’d go off on a sitcom tangent.

Fox now has the new show Traffic Light poised right after Raising Hope. Traffic Light focuses on three college friends who are at different points of their personal life — one’s married with a kid, one’s living with his girlfriend, one’s perpetually the single playboy. No, no, I’m not talking about Rules of Engagement, the CBS sitcom starring David Spade. I mean, yes, that show too focuses on a married couple, an engaged couple and a single guy. But it’s not the same show. And no, I’m not talking about the ABC sitcom, Better Together, featuring sisters (one of whom is married, the other of whom is engaged & pregnant) and their married parents.

Rules of Engagement has the best chance for a future, being the first on the scene (since February 2007)  and being fueled by David Spade and Patrick Warburton; the show is funny. Usually a quiet funny, poking fun at marriage, or the unmarried’s lack of knowledge about the institution. There are some seriously funny lines, and there’s an age difference between the married couple and the engaged couple.

The other two shows, quite frankly, leave me indifferent. I’m not sure of anyone’s name. There is no theme music that jumps out at me and says, “Yes! It’s this show! With these people!”

Of course, it could be because I am constantly comparing today’s sitcoms to my two favorite sitcoms of all time, Seinfeld and Friends. Both of those shows were able to combine physical comedy with witty one-liners that have made television sitcom history. Don’t believe me? Just search on YouTube for “best Friends moments” or “best Seinfeld moments” and you’ll see what I mean.


7 replies on “Sitcoms Just Don’t Do It For Me Anymore”

Somewhat to my surprise, the show The Middle has grown on me, in large part to the character of the daughter, who is as gloriously and unabashedly awkward as she is resilient and enthusiastic at every thing she tries. There’s something refreshing about her earnestness compared to a lot of sitcom kids, and I give the actress credit for totally selling that gawky, on-the-cusp stage with total fearlessness.

(Also, the Janitor from Scrubs! Is a dad! Who got all adorably upset when he discovered Mean Girl politics and even sat through Twilight!)

eta: there are times when it is a little stereotypical in the gender roles between the parents, but at the same time, an ongoing theme is about the mother balancing out the obligations (either her personal ones or the socially expected ones) of being a “good” mother versus reality.

I love Friends – I’ve seen some of the episodes so many times (a former roomie had seasons 1-7 on DVD) but they still crack me up when I rewatch them. And I agree with Jackalopette, so many sitcoms revolve around really tired gender stereotypes that are just obnoxious; I hated Everybody Loves Raymond with a fiery passion for that very reason. I always really enjoyed Scrubs (it definitely ventured into stereotypes but would also undermine them sometimes too) and I also like Modern Family.

Try to catch Mr. Sunshine. It stars Matthew Perry and Allison Janney, along with some other familiar faces, and the pilot had me doing accidental spit-takes in my living room.

This is a short clip of Allison Janney throwing a small child at a group of clowns with axes:

I watched the first episode of Traffic Light and I hated it. I’m sick of sitcoms where the dominant theme seems to be “dudes in relationships who spend the whole time actively avoiding their wives/girlfriends, particularly helping their wives/girlfriends in any way.” I’m engaged and not married so perhaps I’m being naive, but if our relationship is going to turn into nothing but him lying to me to try and get away from me, and me being passive aggressive when he does tell the truth and say he wants to hang out with his friends, I’ll just stop now, thanks.

I do love Raising Hope and Modern Family. The couples in Modern Family seem to have a whole range of interactions; the show is funny but much more nuanced than the average married comedy. The same seems to go for Raising Hope; there is wacky stuff and physical comedy, but there are very real moments of love between Virginia and Burt, or the various parent/child relationships in the show.

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