Why haven’t there been any hit sitcoms over the last few years?

The interweb is a lucky place indeed to have Ken Levine gracing it with his perception and honesty. Case in point:


by Ken Levine

There was a big front page article in the Los Angeles Times a few days ago on the state of sitcoms. The article accurately points out that sitcoms remain TV’s cash cow. They cost less to produce than one-hours, they do well in reruns and syndication, and cable networks rely on them to hold up their schedules.

But networks are bemoaning that they have been unable to launch any blockbuster sitcom hits for years now. BIG BANG THEORY and MODERN FAMILY are the last legitimate hit sitcoms. Networks are introducing 18 new sitcoms this fall hoping that even one grabs the brass ring.

Needless to say, I’m rooting for them. That’s my genre. Most of the people I know working in television are in sitcoms. I want to see them all working – from writers to cameramen to warm up men.

And although no one can predict what will be a smash hit, early indications are that none of the debuting comedies are the panacea Hollywood is looking for. The word is just “more of the same.”

Why has it been so difficult to hatch a monster hit sitcom lately? Everyone has opinions. Mine is just one… although I have written and produced many shows that were giant hits so I do have a certain familiarity with the subject.

Here are my thoughts:

1.  Networks have no plan. They are just shooting at moving targets. For years multi-camera shows were out. Now, suddenly, they’re back in vogue. Why? Because they discovered that the few high rated sitcoms were from Chuck Lorre and they were all multi-camera. Uh, his shows have been hits for years. Networks are just discovering NOW that multi-cam is a viable format?

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