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Network TV's Comedy Vacuum

posted Mar 11, 2013, 9:57 AM by samantha@filmmusicmedia.com

I really don't like the way network sitcoms are going these days.

I get that when it comes to television there's certain trends that ebb and flow. When one show becomes popular five others like it immediately get green lit. When certain comedies get canceled or end on their own it leaves spaces for a new trend to take over.

I believe we're due for another trend here, folks. 30 Rock has ended. The future for Community, Happy Endings, and Go On are bleak. Cougar Town has been banished to the land of cable television. Both ABC and NBC are going into pilot season with huge holes in their comedy schedules. Those two networks have been tanking in the comedy arena ratings-wise when compared to the monster that is CBS and their multi-camera "dad comedies". 

I call them dad comedies because my dad hogs up all the DVR space with them. Seriously, Dad, you do not need 5 episodes of Mike & Molly on the DVR at any given moment.

Dad comedies are a trend that needs to stop. I don't like them. They're unimaginative, their jokes are lazy and rely too much on romantic relationships. Okay, they're good for a marathon when you're hungover (Reba reruns got me through college) and there was a time where they were actually pretty good but the newest ones that have been emerging since Two and a Half Men crawled its way out of Hell are just crappy.

Crappy, but successful. Extremely successful. Which brings me to my fear of what NBC and ABC will bring to the table. In the past NBC has been known for taking on ground-breaking and quirky comedies and putting them on the air and keeping them on the air despite poor ratings, especially if they were critic darlings. Which is great! Fantastic, even! Too bad NBC's ratings keep getting worse and worse (which, as a Conan O'Brien fan, does give me some sick pleasure). Something has to change if they want to make money. They want to make money, of course.

So you can see my fear here. Everybody giving in to the multi-camera cheesy joke format and not giving ambitious pilots a try. I realize I sound like such a television hipster here, but 80% of TV I watch is in comedy format and I'd hate to see it decline in quality for the sake of ratings. Sure, there's the chance that NBC and to a certain extent ABC and FOX will keep giving more off the wall shows a shot but at the end of the day we're all money grubbing jerks. It's already started. NBC let Whitney be a thing. A horrible, horrible thing.

Not all hope is lost, despite how pessimistic I might be on this subject. Nielsen is adjusting their ratings system to include DVR and online viewings, which will help get more accurate ratings. The revelation that the young folk like to get their television from the Internet is about 10 years too late but they had their eureka moment eventually. There's also the fact that low-rated comedies such as 30 Rock and Parks & Rec tend to be the ones that are nominated for awards and are liked by people in the Hollywood community, so that's encouraging. There's hope for next season!

Worst case scenario, I can always re-watch my Arrested Development DVDs for the 50th time next fall.