…And it’s better reading than watching most of the shows:
by Ken Levine
A recent article on Vulture.com by Josef Adalian argues that“Shrinking Sitcom Ratings May Be the Best Thing to Happen to Smart Comedies.” He points to the recent Fox pick-ups of NEW GIRL, MINDY PROJECT, AND BROOKLYN NINE-NINE despite their low ratings and thinks in this day and age, only niche comedies will thrive.
In a desperate attempt to make money from these low rated shows, networks are selling heavily on demographics and looking for other revenue streams like streaming.Gone are the days of the big mass market sitcoms. Even mainstays like THE BIG BANG THEORY and MODERN FAMILY were introduced before so many viewers had DVR’s so they were able to get a toehold. Adalian believes this new niche trend is a good thing. Who needs mediocre shows like SEAN SAVES THE WORLD (an example he uses)?
Adalian makes a lot of good points, but where he loses me is when he says all of this is good for the future of sitcoms.
Since when is shooting low a good thing?
In all of his arguments as to why the current crop is struggling to maintain an audience he neglects to mention that these shows are not really funny. Not to most people. Do you really laugh at THE MINDY PROJECT? Or NEW GIRL? You may smile but do you laugh? They’re quirky, they’re titillating, they depend a lot on irony (“Well, thatworked out well.”) but they don’t make you laugh. BIG BANG THEORY makes you laugh. They have jokes, jokes that are funny. FRIENDS had jokes. Since when did “jokes” become passé? MODERN FAMILY sets up funny situations. So did FRIENDS. So did SEINFELD. So does BIG BANG THEORY.