12.09.2008

How Did That Happen?

It's time to get angry about the modern-day domestic sitcom. How is it that the average-yet-quirky nuclear family now has a schlub husband, a hot wife that no schlub in real life could ever get, a son and a daughter who conveniently appear and disappear when the story calls for it, and several extended family members who exist only to insult the schlub husband? Oh, and they all live in a huge house on one income.

In the movie Knocked Up, Paul Rudd's character comments that "marriage is like an unfunny, tense version of Everybody Loves Raymond; but it doesn't last 22 minutes -- it lasts forever." I'll contend that Everybody Loves Raymond (and its ilk) are an unfunny version of life, and last forever.

This whole trend in three camera mediocrity started with Everybody Loves Raymond, and we have been bombarded by the likes of My Wife and Kids, The King of Queens, Yes Dear, Still Standing, and possibly the biggest offender, According to Jim, ever since.

Why Accoding to Jim? Alan Sepinwall noted that According To Jim, bastion of mediocre, three-camera comedies is entering its eighth season this year. That just ain't right.

Who is watching According to Jim? Is it housewives who wish their life was so much better that they were married to Jim Belushi? Is it schlub and non-schlub husbands who dream of being lazy and married to Courtney Thorne Smith? I just don't get the appeal.

What hurts most is the other side edge of the domestic sitcom sword -- the shows that don't make it because of their popularity. For every Raymond, Jim, Yes Dear and King of Queens, there are several Arrested Developments and Freaks and Geeks that get cancelled because of low ratings. Two networks had to be downsized into one because of low ratings. I'm not saying According to Jim singlehandedly slayed UPN and The WB, but it that it provides further weight to a genre that is suffocating interesting and creative comedies is certainly not helpful.

Ratings are sagging for Jim, so I can only hope for swift and brutal cancellation next summer -- however there may be time to introduce a spin off.

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