Friday, February 6, 2009

Sitcom schmitcom

I read an article today about The Big Bang Theory. I only gave this show one chance (the pilot), which now I'm thinking perhaps was not fair. Because the article talks about how The Big Bang Theory is about a bunch of geeks, one of whom may have Asperger's (although they don't call that out in the show). The characters as described in the article are fascinating to me. Characters I'd want to watch a show about. Characters I probably know in real life (since I'm a bit of a geek myself). And yet the format of this show, the modern sitcom -- tepid jokes, boisterous laugh track, studio lighting, shoot me in the face -- is so completely off-putting that I honestly don't think I can bear it.

Don't hate me for saying this. I never liked Friends very much. In my opinion, Friends was The One With Too Much Laugh Track. I did think Seinfeld was generally funny, but it bugged me that Jerry couldn't keep a straight face. The Drew Carey show? Ha. My Name is Earl makes me want to smash my TV. And I don't understand Two-and-a-Half Men, nor ever will. (Seriously guys, that show is NOT funny.)

I have a genuine problem with the modern-day sitcom. It doesn't make sense to me, because I do like older sitcoms (The Cosby Show, Cheers, etc.) But for some reason modern-day sitcoms are crap in comparison. Even the modern sitcoms that I liked (Will & Grace, Everybody Loves Raymond, Frasier) were great, but not REALLY great.

You can't blame the 30-minute format, so don't even think it. Because some 30-minute shows on TV now are fantastic. But they can't actually be considered "sitcoms" in the modern-day sense. Shows like The Office, 30 Rock, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. (And other modern but canceled shows like Arrested Development, Sports Night, etc.) No laugh track. Smarter, off-beat humor. None of these are really sitcoms. In the classic definition (30-minute situational comedies), they are. But held against modern standards for a sitcom? Absolutely not.

I don't understand what's wrong with modern-day sitcoms. I can't pinpoint exactly why I hate them so much, and more importantly, I don't get why they have to be made the way they are either. It's just not very funny. It's sometimes even annoying. It mystifies me. But I guess maybe it's just me, because unbelievably Two-and-a-Half Men is always second only to football and American Idol in the Nielsen ratings.

But back to the issue, have I not given The Big Bang Theory enough of a chance? Am I unfairly assuming it's just like all its other modern sitcom friends? For its own sake, I hope it's not. I mean, I know it's not like the kind of 30-minute shows I like these days. But I hope it's actually like some of the better modern-day sitcoms, like Will & Grace. Because the premise of the show is great. So maybe I'll give it a second chance... in honor of geeks everywhere. But sitcoms, you are officially on notice. (insert laugh track here)

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