I grew up with situation comedies. Tuesday nights I would watch the Happy Days, Laverne Shirley Block. In the 80s it was Cosby (pre-Gloria Alred) and Family Ties. 90’s it was Seinfeld/Friends/Cheers etc. If I ever felt nostalgic/needed a palette cleanser, I could always watch Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore or Bob Newhart on reruns. Of course, my favorite sit-com of all time would have to be All In The Family. Its re-runs are still brilliant and laugh out loud funny.
Sitcoms were always easier to watch than Dramas. They don’t require as much focus on plot, the characters are always wittier than your classmates/workmates (no offense) and their characters don’t, like real life people, fall into periods of long moroseness and self-involvement (always fun to be on the receiving end of one of those phone calls/text chats).
The proliferation of gritty dramas about crime scenes, hospital rooms, FBI stakeouts, and of course reality shows has, through the years, made sit-coms an endangered species. I, myself, find that choose to watch more drama and reality shows than sit-coms because of the action, acting, and ever increasing sensationalist storylines (How To Get Away With Murder) or sexy subplots (Masters Of Sex, The Affair) that keep you gripped week after week.
But, endangered or not, there are still at least 8-10 Sit-Coms currently on air that deserve attention. So, here’s my list of the worthy and the not so worthy.
The Big Bang Theory- On for nearly 10 years, the show is now about half as funny as it used to be. I think the point at which the show “jumped the shark” to use a Happy Days term was the addition of Amy Fowler (no offense to Mayim Bialik). her joining with the show’s most nerdy member finally solidified the more domesticated/normalized nerds and made the much more like every other sit-com on TV and removed a lot of its outsider, satirical bite. Many complain that the characters are too much alike now and the show is more and more like “Friends” every day. All that is true but, Its instead my firm contention that, generally speaking, characters who are getting steady sex and involved in productive/satisfying relationships are simply just not very funny.
Two Broke Girls- This show is, to me, probably the funniest right now of the workplace comedies. Sure the banter is wittier than people, given their situations/background should be allowed and this show features more raunchy insults and pop culture references than you can shake a stick at and sure, the accents of some of the characters (sophie and Oleg) are like nothing else in nature but for sheer volume of put-downs, one-liners, and sheer ridiculousness, this show probably wins all categories. Def worth a check out.
Mom- Mom is my favorite sit-com on the air right now. It has just the right blend of heart and humor to make most of its half hours truly satisfying. The characters are not cookie cutter sit-com types. Nearly each character is suffering from addictions so the usual preachy or condescending tone of a lot of family comedies is gone. Instead, is very self aware characters (Bonnie- Mom, feisty, flawed, and largely amoral) played by the great Allison Janey and her more ethical/neurotic daughter (Christy) played by the no-slouch-herself, Anna Farris. The two main characters have an atypical, sparring relationship that only goes to mom/daughter things when it needs to and never beats you over the head with anti-drinking platitudes. When the characters do relapse into addictions, they do so semi-believably and hilariously and can always bounce off each other for ways to cope. Chuck Lorre is expert at these Odd Couple, two and a half men blendings to mine for humor and pathos and the chemistry here of Allison Janey and Anna Farris is as good, if not better than anything else on sit-coms today.
Other honorable mentions:
Impastor- novel premise, likeable lead and supporting characters. has promise but doesn’t have quite enough satirical bite to be a good comedy about religion. More like a middling one like Amen with Sherman Helmsley.
Younger- Thin premise. Woman pretends to be younger than she is to land a job. Isn’t that pretty much everyone, men too? Also There’s really not that much of a generation gap between 27-40 that a good coloring job and some pop culture references can’t hide. The actress is likable and perky enough but physically cannot pass for younger than 35-37 on a good day. Supposedly a comedy but lacks any real funny lines. Only the lead actress is really made into a 3 dimensional character so far.