’2 Broke Girls’ and the State of the American Sitcom
More so than any other type of television program, the sitcom is a largely American format. Sure, the British have made inroads into the format, but no other country makes even close to the number of sitcoms that American networks produce. And after a long dormant period dating approximately to the series finale of Friends, the American sitcom is back. Or so the entertainment media would have us all believe.
Objectively, it’s hard to argue that sitcoms aren’t more popular now than they have been at any time since the early aughts. That’s largely because they’re ubiquitous on network schedules. I’m pretty sure that NBC doesn’t even have a single hour-long drama in primetime (and no I’m not going to check). No, the problem isn’t that Americans aren’t watching sitcoms, it’s the sitcoms that they are watching.
There are a handful of good half-hour live-action comedies on television these days. I would list them in order as: Parks and Recreation, Community, Happy Endings, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The League, and How I Met Your Mother (the jury is still out on Up All Night). Of these, two are on cable (Sunny and The League), two are largely ignored (Community and Happy Endings) and two do well enough. What all these shows have in common is witty writing, both plot and story, and an ability to challenge audiences. That’s their biggest problem.
The show most often cited when talking about a sitcom ‘comeback’ is CBS’ 2 Broke Girls. The only problem is, 2 Broke Girls sucks monkey balls. Despite the likability of it’s principles: Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs, Girls is entirely devoid of wit, intelligence, and laughs. It paints in wide, ethnic and social stereotypes that would be offensive if they weren’t so poorly envisioned. 2 Broke Girls is essentially Two and a Half Men with Kat Dennings’ rack replacing
Charlie Sheen in a bowling shirt naked Ashton Kutcher.
What makes it doubly sad, is that 2 Broke Girls has the potential to be a great show. The country is going through a period of economic stagnation, in cities everywhere there are plenty of broke girls, trying to make ends meet and follow their dreams. Instead, it comes out looking like how the tea party people with the rascal scooters and funny hats must envision Brooklyn. I certainly don’t believe that every TV show has to make a social statement and I enjoy fart jokes more than the average viewer, however if you set your sitcom up in the perfect situation to say something meaningful, you’re doing us all a disservice by not doing so.
The truth is, I can’t really fault the writers of 2 Broke Girls for their laziness or ignorance, whichever it is, Girls is just a symptom of what’s wrong with American TV today. No one wants to watch something that makes them think, it’s much easier to look at your screen and go, “Hurr Durr that fat little Asian sure has a funny accent.” It’s this same mentality that’s made Chuck Lorre and Jay Leno obscenely rich. It’s the same reason why while Community continues to challenge viewers every Thursday night while remaining hilarious, infinitely more people watch The Big Bang Theory make the same Star Trek joke over and over. 2 Broke Girls isn’t the vaccine that saves sitcoms, it’s just a mutated strain of what’s been ailing them all these years, one with bigger boobs.
Excuse me while I go drink a liter of Listerine.
Posted on November 9, 2011, in Crappy TV shows, Quality Programming, Serious Topics and tagged 2 Broke Girls, Community, Crappy TV, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Parks and Rec, Quality Programming, Serious Topics, The League. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.