If it is not clear from all the media I cover on this channel one would assume my favorite shows would be the big DC CW Universe, or anime, or hit Netflix shows like Stranger Things. I may enjoy those shows a lot, but they are not my favorite. My favorite type of show is the sitcom (especially if it’s got a hefty season count).
I love sitcoms. I love (I want to say all just because that’s easier for the sake of communication even if there are some shows I don’t like as much as others. I mean you’d think “all” would be implied as a blanket meaning that not really saying all of them are great, but have potential. I’m getting off track so I’ll stick with “all” and will descend into the particular as I go) all types of sitcoms. From old school ones like Cheers and Fresh Prince to the newer crop like (actually I think the newest one I’ve watched is Brooklyn 99 or New Girl. Are they new? I mean if a show is still going it’s new, but then The Simpson’s is new. The most recent is closer to what I mean) Brooklyn 99, New Girl, and The Good Place. They all hold a special place in my TV watching life.
I could go through how I think comedy is the perfect vehicle to deliver any narrative if it is well crafted and constructed, but that’s nor the reason I love them. I love them because they are the perfect show to watch for any occasion.
I often start sitcoms when I am sick or not feeling good. That is the perfect time to begin them. These shows are made to lull you, relax you, and make you laugh. If they are good, or their characters are compelling to watch then the show can sustain that feeling for the whole run. That makes it easy to slip in and out of like a well worn bed. They comfortable.
Comfortable is an interesting descriptor to use when defining a piece of media. It does not paint the picture of a compelling story with well rounded and complex characters. It provides the image of being bundled on the couch with a pint of ice cream and a bakers dozen with of blankets and pillows. But that is not a bad thing. Everyone needs to just relax once in a while.
Sitcoms are perfect for this. They have a wide variety of themes, tones, arcs, characters, and coats to hang the comedy on. Those differences provide a large amount of differentiation. You can have an alien invasion story, a group of friends living in New York, two brothers and a song living together, just a day at the office, the lives of a diverse family, a police procedural, a study group in a community college, a dysfunctional family just at the poverty line, and an adorkable teacher living with three guys in LA. All of those series sound like they’d be totally different genres and have nothing in common. To some extent that is true, but they do all have something in common that makes them comfy and enjoyable. Relatable family.
From 3rd Rock from the Sun, to Friends, fo Seinfeld, to New Girl, Parks and Recreation, to Brooklyn 99, and Community (there are dozens more examples but you get the point) they all center around family. Sometimes it’s actual family, like Malcolm in the Middle of Life in Pieces. But in those examples it’s all about found family. They are a family built on spending inordinate amounts of time partaking in wacky hijinks. The groups bond and go on adventures that are mostly relatable (shows like Community and Brooklyn 99 push that to the very edge) and often pretty to very funny.
They are also all easy to watch in different states. The best sitcoms can work on so many levels. Like I said above, I start sitcoms when I am down. In those times I often hyper focus on them. Take in every line, joke, and set detail. But, as time goes on and other stuff takes over I often start to multitask. I will just have them on while I do other things. In that case I only take in parts of them at a time, but they are no harder to follow or take in the jokes.
It’s an odd thing to say that making a show easy to follow if you ignore it makes it sound negative. Everyone wants super engaging, well crafted, intricate series that can be binged in an afternoon or two. There is nothing wrong with that. Many of those are good shows, but they are also not the bulk of television. That’s because being super engaging does not mean just having complex narratives with deep characters. You can have simple characters that are easy to relate to and understand. Being well crafted and intricate does not always mean having a twisted, detailed, complex plot. You can have plots and stories that are straightforward. A conflict occurs and people have to overcome it by quipping and making jokes.
All series are valid, but making people laugh and chill out is something I value more than any other.
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