The death of sit-coms

There’s always been a theory that the sit-com is played out and is slowly declining to its inevitable end. I’ve never much believe it, myself.

But when I look at my television viewing habits today, I realize that there might be something to it. I watch SCRUBS, FRIENDS, DREW CAREY, SIMPSONS, and JUST SHOOT ME right now. I gave up on FRASIER and MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE this year. Nothing else does anything for me. DREW CAREY is on “hiatus” and who knows if ABC will honor their contract for it next year. JUST SHOOT ME is unofficially dead. The stars are already moving on, and NBC plans to blow out the last batch of episodes in rapid succession in the next couple of months. FRIENDS has a half-season next year or something. SCRUBS is still ascending. In two years, it’s quite possible that SCRUBS is the only sit-com I’ll be watching if THE SIMPSONS were to end. None of the others on television right now appeal to me at all.

What else do I watch? CSI, ALIAS, 24, THE SHIELD, AMERICAN IDOL, SURVIVOR, BIG BROTHER, AMAZING RACE, and a bunch of cable shows like JUNKYARD WARS and MONSTER GARAGE. All drama or reality television shows.

Is television just not funny anymore? Is the 22 minute laugher played out? Are we all sick of seeing cliched office sit-coms and family friendly comedies with cute kids and “aw gawsh” moments at the end?

Or is it just that any sit-com that breaks that mold isn’t given a chance and is killed by the network, like ANDY RICHTER and TITUS? (Where’s the TITUS DVDs, darn it?)

What about you? Are you watching less sit-coms now than ever, also? Or is this just part of the ebb and flow of a TV-watching life?

10 thoughts on “The death of sit-coms

  1. You know, I don’t watch extensive amounts of TV myself, but now that I think about it, it’s all non-comedies: Buffy, Angel, West Wing, and I sort of vaguely watch Law & Order when I leave the TV on after West Wing.

    I don’t know why that is. Maybe because there’s nothing about the comedies that call to me to watch them in terms of plot/set up.

    I sometimes watch Less Than Perfect if I’m home. Other than that, no comedies for me.

  2. Alias, Dragnet, Buffy, 24, Angel, and Good Eats (the best dang food show ever!!!!)

    I have gotten a few chuckles out of that John Ritter show… but, I am not that interested in sitcoms anymore. Especially the “family shows” because they always degenerate in to “..on a very special episode of “

    Shutting up now


  3. I’m right there with you Scott – Good Eats is excellent! If you’ve never tried it I would say that it is better than 90% of sitcoms – more humor and you even learn something.

    Scrubs is it for me with sit-coms. Most of the time I do end up skipping that for Survivor though – I still can’t get enough of that. Amazing Race is way better, but is also aired much less.

    Dramas (and home improvement shows now that I have a house) make up most of my viewing. Buffy, Smallville and Law & Order Criminal Intent are pretty much it. I have been watching Roswell now that Sci-Fi is running it – that turned out to be a great show.

  4. I, too, watch mostly drama’s on American television, but BBC has the best comedies. Coupling, Manchild and especiall The Office are all fantastic bits of comedy. Manchild could probably be described best as a dramedy as it’s not your typical sitcom.

    As for American television comedy I currently only watch Life with Bonnie (one week can be fantastic followed by a piss poor episode the following week) and Friends. I gave up Frasier two years back when I realized I hadn’t laughed at an episode in 2 years. The rest is all drama.

  5. Hardly watch any tv at all. Just cartoons, Enterprise, and Monk (when it has new episodes).
    But if I did watch more, I’d watch the Drew Carey show. I about bust a gut the last time I watched it.

    On topic, though. I have serious doubts that sitcoms will die. I think that shows will rise up to take the guard soon after the last of the sitcoms you mentioned dies.

  6. What I watch semi-regularly

    American Dreams
    Law & Order: CI
    Everybody Loves Raymond
    Life with Bonnie
    Will & Grace

    I don’t think the sitcom is going anywhere – right now Friends, W&G & Raymond are examples of classic-type sitcoms still very good and Bonnie, Simpsons and Scrubs are two more “experimental” sitcoms doing very good work – six very solid sitcoms on at once (and that’s only counting the ones I watch – King of Queens and Andy Richetr are, I understand, pretty good themselves) is I’d guess not a bad batting average.

  7. Sitcoms I watch regularly:

    Malcolm in the Middle
    The Bernie Mac Show

    All laugh-track-less, incidentally. I’ll also occasionally tune in to syndicated repeats of King of the Hill, That ’70s Show, or Everybody Loves Raymond.

    One show my parents like is Still Standing, which does pretty well in the ratings. I tuned in once, and didn’t even smile for the half-episode that I watched before changing channels. Still, it’s not the most overrated sitcom. That status goes to Will & Grace, which I find terribly unfunny and can’t begin to fathom why it wins awards.


  8. Drew Carey is still my favorite. I’m with Paul on this one — my sides usually hurt after every show. It’s consistently funny in a way most shows aren’t. The plot lines at the company are hilarious and so so painfully true…

    Loren –> I just wanted to do a quick “amen” to your comments on WILL & GRACE.

    Scott –> The death knell of HOME IMPROVEMENT was when Patricia Richardson talked about how happy she was that the boys were teengers and that they could finally start doing issue-oriented episodes. Somewhere, a shark jumped. And there was a point in the 80s where all the shows I grew up watching had to do their obligatory “an adult touched me” storyline. Even on friggin’ MISTER BELVEDERE. UGH


  9. “Is television just not funny anymore? Is the 22 minute laugher played out?”

    People were saying roughly the same thing in the early-to-mid-80s. Sitcoms had sunk so low that many feared they would never recover. Then came “The Cosby Show,” and with it, a whole revival of the sitcom.

    Eventually, the trend peaked (possibly back when Frasier, Friends, Simpsons, and Seinfeld were all simultaneously great), and now we’re reaching bottom again. Sooner or later, we’ll get another sitcom to kick-start the format again.


  10. I don’t know; I think Home Improvement jumped the shark when the credits rolled on the pilot. ;)

    And I’ll stand up to defend W&G – the characters, particularly Jack and Karen, are intentionally drawn as cartoons, allowing for some great over the top humor. Its consistently well-directed and the ensemble works great together. AND, on the rare occasion they do an episode that actually attemps some emotional content, they pull it off wonderfully – the flashback ep where W&G remisnisce about Will’s coming out of the closet to Grace being a prime example.


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