Chad White, Remembers Joey, Let’s Not Talk About Joey
Remember when sitcoms used to be so generic? There was one guy that the show centered around. He had a wacky set of friends. There was the eccentric neighbor that always came over. That really hot girl that’s probably going to get with the main character before the series finale. That other friend that is fat or has some strange quirk, or both. There’s the estranged family member(s) that show up at random times for that easy storyline. There’s the job and boss that the main character hates. Oh, and let’s not forget the audience that laughs at even the most mundane of jokes (or the overuse of the laugh track. I’m looking at you Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, Big Bang Theory).
Wait, I think that I described EVERY SITCOM EVER. Yeah, the sitcom archetypes have never changed. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. If the formula isn’t broken, don’t fix it right? Wrong. Television sitcoms are the worst at never changing. Only few have strayed from the almost 40 year old strategy described in the paragraph above. Everything in the sitcom world is formulaic. But if we utilize all the tricks from every sitcom ever then maybe we can do a hard reset on sitcoms all the while creating the greatest sitcom in the world.
Top Ten Ways To Make The Perfect Sitcom:
1. Catchy Theme
-A show with a catchy theme is a must. How else am I supposed to know that the show is on? Friends had the best song according to a poll on the internet that I just did at this moment. Who can forget “I’ll be there for youuuuuu (Like I’ve been there before)?”
2. New York Setting
-90% of shows now take place in the Big Apple. From Friends to Rules of Engagement and even new shows such as The Michael J Fox Show and the shitty, shitty, shitty Dads (Seriously, don’t watch that show. It sucks so much). Your show won't matter if it doesn't involve Time Square in any way either.
3. White Male Lead
-A show about a white guy working in New York? Oh man, half of America is hooked already. I mean, who wants to watch a show about a diverse cast of characters…
4. Gay Friend/Black Friend/Dumb Friend/ Rich Friend
-Speaking of diverse cast of characters, the writers also want to appeal to another demographic other than the 18-35 white males. So they introduce the Gimmick Friend. This character can be the always funny black guy, a la J.B. Smoove in ‘til Death; The super-rich friend who’s job you don’t know, as in Neil Patrick Harris in How I Met Your Mother; The gay character, also Neil Patrick Harris (just kidding NPH. I love you).
5. Hot Girl
-Rachel from Friends. Jackie from That 70’s Show. Marie from Everybody Loves Raymond. Every show needs an attractive girl that directly affects the main character in a way. There’s also bonus points if their spoiled, whiny, and/or rich.
6. Girl That’s Hot But Not As Hot As Hot Girl
-This one is a given. Donna on That 70’s Show. Sophie from 2 Broke Girls. Michelle on Full House. She has to be funny, just like the Gimmick Friend, but she also has to draw attention to herself when needed. If she’s too hot, then she detracts from the main character hot girl and destroys all reason for the show to exist.
7. Couple That Should Be Together But Aren’t…Until Later
-This one is a given. If nothing else mentioned above is not used in any part of the show at all, this aspect absolutely HAS to be in there. This technique has been used for centuries. It all dates back to God with his use of Adam and Eve and their whole “will they, wont they” relationship. Obviously, they did. Examples of this terrible dynamic include Sam and Diane from Cheers; Jack Tripper and Janet Wood, Chrissy Snow, Cindy Snow, and Terri Alden from Three’s Company; And Archie Bunker and George Jefferson from All in the Family.
8. Raunchy Themes
-Moroccan themed Christmas? Check. An episode about accidental domestic abuse? Check. Not sure if you’re pregnant so you go to the doctor and – oh shit you’re pregnant? Check.
9. “Classic” Story Lines
-“We’re stuck in the subway with this pregnant lady and it’s Christmas!” “Oh no! I accidentally left a nasty message on my bosses’ voicemail!” “Whoopsy, I slept with someone I shouldn’t have.”
10. Audience That’s Way Too Into It/Overuse of Laugh Track
-Big Bang Theory. Married With Children. Whitney. All of these shows and more are guilty of using the Laugh Track way too often. I do, however, have a theory that the audience of Married With Children were drugged and told to clap as often as possible.
BONUS: Chuck Lorre
-Can you name a recent sitcom that’s on CBS, pulls in 12 million viewers each episode, and isn’t remotely funny at all? Neither can I. Chuck Lorre is a genius when it comes to this type of thing. Most of his shows are still on air and one, Two and a Half Men, lost a man and a half but still continues to garner high viewership count. This guy is doing what other producers can only dream. He needs to share his formula for success with the likes of NBC and FOX. God knows they need the help.