Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What to watch?

Month ago, I read an article by Neil Swidey of the Boston Globe on his introduction of the Brady Bunch and other classic 60’s sitcoms to his young daughters.  Their impression of sexist dialogue was interesting, and it got me thinking again about the state of today’s sitcoms.

At the risk of offending some readers, with few exceptions, I think today’s sitcoms are crap.  For every great show like “Modern Family”, there’s “Jesse” or “A.N.T. Farm”, and I could name many, many more.  How did we get from “Must See TV” on NBC Thursday nights (Cosby Show [before we learned "The Cos" was a rapist], Night Court, Cheers and Wings, throw in Seinfeld and Frasier for good measure), or a strong CBS Monday night in the early 1990s (Designing Women, Evening Shade, Murphy Brown) to “Must Avoid TV” like “Two Broke Girls” where every joke is about the size of the girls’ equipment, or their bosses’?  Why, why, why the proliferation of such garbage?

500 channels on satellite or cable certainly do not help.  Those stations are on air, paying broadcast and transmission fees, so they have to fill their airwaves with something, so anyone with a half-baked idea for a sitcom can push their ideas to someone.   In the past, with so few channels, the networks and production companies had the luxury of cherry-picking the best of the best.  Now, with so many shows, networks, production companies, etc…any person with a sharp enough pencil can get a show. 

Even the semi-mainstream cable channels like Nickelodeon or Disney put on quite a bit of junk.  Check out the aforementioned “A.N.T. Farm” or “Austin & Ally”, “Jessie” or an oldie but a goodie…”Zoey 101”. 

Many of the most terrible shows feature or star young actors.  In the past, we only had to worry about the kids from the “Brady Bunch” or “Diff'rent Strokes”, now, there are probably hundreds of young actors that may struggle with work in the future, and only a half-step away from turning in to Dana Plato.  Exhibit A-Jamie Lynn Spears, the younger, yet slightly more promiscuous sister (if possible) of Brittany Spears.  Pregnant at 16, it’s too early to tell how she’ll crash and burn, but if her sister is any example, it won’t be long. 


Conversely, outlets like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix are creating or carrying shows of such quality, they have been recognized with Emmy nominations.  Where the Fox Network would rather run episodes of “Bob’s Burgers” than Emmy winning “Arrested Development”, Netflix has been happy to fill the gap, run the fourth season of this great show, and be rewarded with an Emmy nomination.  In fact, Netflix, certainly not a traditional network by anyone’s measure, also received nominations for “House of Cards” with Kevin Spacey.  It won’t be long before we are all watching Emmy award-winning shows on our cell phones at Starbucks.  As Seinfeld has said about “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (one of my current favorites), he tried to create a show that could be watched on our phones…can’t say I’d really mind…TV and coffee, what could be bad about that?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Justice is blind; The seaward is here; his cousin Maybe; Loose seal, loose seal; and of course-There's always money in the banana stand.