Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sitcoms Assume You're Stupid

I hate sitcoms. I hate them with a passion. They are, by far, the worst form of writing and storytelling. They make us dumber as individuals and as a culture, and they are a poison that should be purged from existence. (Yes, I've said this before.)

When I say that, I talk about the traditional sitcom. Shows like Friends and Frasier in the '90s. Nowadays, shows like Two and A Half Men and The Big Bang Theory. There are shows that exist which are situation-comedies, but are not standard in significant ways; I am not talking about them today. Today, I am talking about the ones that treat you like you are a brainless moron.

I hate that there is no subtlety whatsoever in sitcoms. It is a show meant to make you laugh, but there is no skill and no tact in the humor. They slap you in the face with every joke they make. It's like they said, "I took the time to make this joke, so I'm going to be damn sure you know that a joke was just told to you." And that is exactly what ruins the humor.

The best jokes are the ones  you didn't catch right away. They are the ones that are a reply to a question or a comment on a situation that sound perfectly natural, but contain a great bit of wit. Yes, it may not be noticed by every person on every time, but that makes the series richer. It adds replay value. It makes reruns worthwhile. It gives people reason to own the DVDs. But no, instead we have to have the premise raised, an obvious pause to get us ready for the joke, and then some trite comment.

And what makes the whole thing even more insulting is that sitcoms don't even trust us to actually laugh at their terrible jokes. They have to use prerecorded laughter and manually insert it after every joke, after every barely comical sarcastic comment, and every moronic piece of slapstick.

If you actually love sitcoms, then I'm sorry you just read all of this. Feel free to hate me. If you actually love good comedy and/or storytelling, then use sitcoms as a wonderful example of what not to do.


  1. You may be right and it may be true. In general I also can't stand the prerecorded laughter, but I do appreciate sitcoms for exactly what they are - mindless entertainment. There are times when all I want to do is switch off my brain and relax, and sitcoms are the perfect remedy. No need to think, no need to analyze, no need to use my already over used exhausted brain. Yes, when I read a book, an article or even a blog, I expect mental stimulation. but I expect the exact opposite from a sitcom and that's what I get. And I truly believe that I'm not the only person who thinks and feels like that, otherwise sitcoms like Friends wouldn't have run for 10 years and now be in syndication and still loved by millions.

  2. I will perfectly admit that I love mindless entertainment. But to me, that is relative. I could put on intelligent shows like Mythbusters or History of the Universe and use them as background noise. But if I choose to pay attention to them, I can still learn from it.

    Alternatively, consider a show like Rocko's Modern Life. Every ounce of that show is loaded with hidden jokes. You can put it on and laugh at what's in front of you, but you can still respect it for everything they did and appreciate that effort when you are paying attention.

    Nothing about mindless entertainment requires assuming you're stupid, or not putting in creative effort.