Sitcoms: What we should stop binging and what we should start
Since the 1950’s, the situation comedy has been one of the most popular forms of television. A sitcom usually involves a set of characters who find themselves in precarious but funny situations, and normally each episode doesn’t have a subsequent plot line. Ads for Disney Plus’s “WandaVision,” depicting the Marvel superheroes Wanda and Vision in black and white sitcoms, suggests nostalgia for classic sitcoms.
From the classics like “I Love Lucy” to remakes of “Full House,” sitcoms have either not aged well or just aren't as funny as we once thought they were.
One show that has maybe been going on for too long is “Friends.” A show that is beloved by many, it’s based around six friends who all live within the same apartment building. With ten seasons, most of the jokes feel like rehashes of each other and most of the time if you lose the laugh track the shows tend to not be quite as funny. That's not to say that the show doesn't have its funny or heartfelt moments, but there aren't enough of them to justify the accolades the show receives.
Kelsey Grammer as "Frasier" Photo by Gale Adler - Paramount
Instead, turn to the spinoff of the sitcom “Cheers.” “Frasier” follows the life of Dr. Frasier Crane, a radio psychologist who moved back in with his father after a divorce. Where “Friends” feels like the jokes were rehashed and over done, Frasier's were a delightful mix of family bickering and comedy. The show mixes sophistication with unsophisticated situations, adding another layer of comedic gold to the show.
Then there is “Everyone Loves Raymond,” a slice of life type of sitcom which follows the life of a Sports columnist and his family. The male bias of the writing in the show makes the wife the butt of too many jokes. Even jokes meant to make fun of the main character, Raymond, are often done at the wife’s expense. Though she's not the only one the show tends to rag on, the show’s humor also depends on the stereotypical overused overbearing parents who Raymond has to bicker with constantly. With nine seasons of people yelling at each other, just like ”Friends,” the show seemingly uses the same jokes over and over again with a laugh track slapped over it in hopes that people don't notice.
Courtesy Sony Pictures
For those who love a slice of life style sitcom, switch instead to “BeWitched.” While it was made in 1964, the jokes and situations are still funnier than what you can find in the likes of “Everyone Loves Raymond.” When a witch who can't resist using her powers marries an everyday man, chaos and hilarity ensues. With old style gags and prop use, “BeWitched” feels just a tad more natural in its jokes and comedic timing. Also the laughs are real as everything was filmed in front of a studio audience instead of relying on a laugh track.
Then there are sitcoms that seemingly only can find their forms of comedy in the over use of stereotypes and poor writing habits like “Big Bang Theory.” A show about an aspiring actress moving into an apartment across the hall from two genius physicists who don't know how to act or behave outside of a group of nerds or lab environment, especially not with women. For 12 seasons, “Big Bang Theory” bases its humor on the stereotypical premise that all people within the nerd culture are socially inept.
Felicia Day's The Guild courtesy YouTube
If people want to see something better written and made by people in the actual “nerd” culture, turn to the “Guild.” Coming up with the concept, writing, and acting in it is one of the community's most beloved people, Felicia Day, who based the concept around her own life, wanting to show that the stereotype of "man living in his parents' basement is not the only kind of gamer." Premiering on YouTube, the show is based around six friends who play in the same Guild in "The Game" while also trying to live their normal lives, with mixed results. The show lasted for six seasons, with episodes having short run times of 3-12 minutes each.
But not all sitcoms are live-action, there are a good portion of them that are animated. South Park follows the crude and explicit exploits of four boys in a small Colorado town, This show has touched topics that are highly controversial and weird, including “reversed births” and cannibalism. But after 23 seasons of watching Kenny get killed, or similar jokes being told over and over again, it’s tiring having the knowledge that the show is not over. The show just keeps dragging itself out using whatever new controversial subject it can latch onto to push itself into the limelight again.
The Ren and Stimpy Show (TV series 1991 - 1996) courtesy Nickelodeon
However, if viewers want to see the seed of crude jokes done with creative wit, then turn to “Ren and Stimpy.” A Nickelodeon original, the show follows "short-tempered, psychotic, asthma-hound Chihuahua," Ren Höek, and his friend, a "dimwitted and happy-go-lucky cat" named Stimpy. Like South Park, it's a show filled with crude jokes and violence, but unlike “South Park,” it never feels like you've seen it over and over again. Probably because the jokes were first done on “Ren and Stimpy.”
Another long running show that needs to end soon is“Family Guy.” The show is 19 seasons of watching the Griffin family do or go through over-exaggerated events of home life in the dumbest of ways. The show is Seth McFarland trying to be relevant and funny, but missing the mark over and over again. The show's plotlines, if you can find one, are redundant and over the top with the same use of controversial subjects as “South Park” for shock value. But one can only go through so many episodes of the characters being offensive in hopes that it'll end up funny.
The Angry Beavers courtesy Nickelodeon
Instead of “Family Guy,” turn to “The Angry Beavers.” Brothers Norbert and Daggett Beavers leave their parents’ home and go on wacky and crazy adventures. Not only are these adventures more entertaining than what shows like “Family Guy” are producing.“The Angry Beavers” aired before shows like “Family Guy” and “South Park,” about the same time as “Ren and Stimpy.” The jokes feel fresh and new, and the storyline actually makes sense.