In an episode of Louie this summer, Louis C.K. walked off the set of a fictional sitcom based on his own experiences in the TV industry. C.K. was frustrated by the bogus version of life in multi-camera sitcoms — the schlub with a wife out of his league who just nods along agreeably, kids he just can’t relate to, a job with wacky coworkers/friends — and all he wanted was some authenticity. Would it be too much to ask for that schmuck’s hot wife to not go along with his tangents and schemes? Would the show really be worse off if said schmuck had a character arc, learned some lessons, and (gasp) became a decent husband and father? Of course not.
I get the feeling that we’ll be talking about this one for a long time.
Back in July, nobody, not even Vince Gilligan himself, could have convinced me that Breaking Bad would be able to top its third season. Equal it? Sure. But for me, its third season was the an apex of dramatic storytelling on television, a milestone that would rarely be paralleled by any future show. Here I am, thirteen weeks later—and I’m eating crow, because they did it again.
Breaking Bad topped itself, and holy **** was it one crazy ******* ride.
Michael Scott was and always will be one of my favorite characters of all time. Some people called him an inconsistent character, but I always saw him as one of the most complicated and wonderful icons of the last decade of TV. Going on without his presence seemed almost impossible last year — and then The Office went on with life as usual.
Those last few episodes of Season 7 had some fantastic moments in them (read: the entire Dwight-as-manager episode), even if the whole wasn’t as strong as the sum of its parts. After the finale, I hoped the producers would pick James Spader as the new boss. He was magnetic, in the most disturbing way possible. He stood out in stark contrast to the rest of the cast, and I thought he would bring a fantastic new energy to make everyone forget about Steve Carell’s absence.
Well, what would you have done?
Leslie was faced with an incredible decision in the final moments of season three— run for city council? Or stay together with Ben? Nobody in their right mind would have thought her to try to have it both ways (this is the noble Leslie Knope, after all), but nonetheless her decision was a heartbreaking one. Even though she and Ben ended things amicably, and of course in their own dorky-cute way, this won’t be the end of this conflict. Not by a long shot.
The world is fixated on the future. Thinking, and worrying, about it is burned into our identity as humans. When we’re children, we imagine high school; likewise, in high school, we imagine college. Once college is over, though, and the great beyond of life hits us, we keep looking forward, hoping that things will get better—we pray that we haven’t peaked in life prematurely. For all the thinking we do, humans forget the one constant in all points of life: the group of friends one has at any given moment.
When I was in high school, I didn’t want to imagine life without my tight-knit group of friends. There were five or so of us that knew each other completely, a group of confidantes that regularly relied on each other. It was a strange group, but it was still a family of sorts. Once college hit, all of us went our separate ways, promising to stay in touch and remain close, but of course that didn’t happen. We still communicate, and see each other, but it isn’t the same anymore. It can’t be.
Haven’t we seen all of this before?
Mitchell and Cameron have CRAZY quirks, and those quirks affect their parenting of Lily. Claire is a loud and commanding shrew. Phil is vying for Jay’s respect. Is it just me, or are these Season One’s stories with a flashy new paint job?
Don’t get me wrong, I love Modern Family. It’s consistently one of the highlights of my week, and there are few shows that deserve consecutive Outstanding Comedy Series Emmys more. But something seems wrong— it seems like the show is spinning its wheels, something that “The Show That Saved Sitcoms” would have never done a year ago.
When I started my junior year in high school, I imagined that when I looked back on my four years there, I’d reflect upon it bitterly and with a lot of spite. Of course that wasn’t healthy, but up to that point, my school life hadn’t exactly been rosy.
I grew up in a small town where I fell outside both the religious and political majorities, and my life outside of home was affected because of both. I wasn’t talented athletically, or a social butterfly, but I always had a close group of friends who had similar interests and were pushing for the same thing—to be recognized and respected in the school. By my senior year, I had achieved that more than I would have imagined a year earlier.
Perhaps my trials in high school were what drew me to a pilot that aired after American Idol my junior year, and those experiences are why I continue to have blind faith in that same show — Glee — one that I both admire and loathe at the same time.
Well, consider me shocked. That was non-terrible television.
I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I laughed. I laughed during Two and a Half Men. Maybe it was because of Charlie Sheen’s HILARIOUS funeral, or perhaps because Ashton Kutcher is a genuinely gifted comedian, but I laughed. I almost feel embarrassed.
My relationship with Two and a Half Men isn’t a very strong one. In fact, all I’d seen of the series was a few post-credits tags while waiting for Archer to come on. All I knew was that Charlie Sheen played Charlie Sheen, Jon Cryer was criminally wasted, and the mysterious half-man lurked about. Having that much knowledge, I entered tonight’s premiere wondering just how bad the show that is famous for being bad could be.
Every so often, we’ll take a look at two similar shows, old or new, and discuss their respective merits and flaws. This week, two new comedies centered around young, hip girls — FOX’s New Girl and CBS’s 2 Broke Girls. Next week, we’ll pit The Playboy Club and Pan Am against one another.
I think I’m over Zooey Deschanel. I know it’s blasphemous to say, and I’ll risk the little credibility I have, but she just doesn’t do it for me anymore. In 2009, sure, I would have fallen head over heels for a pilot starring everyone’s favorite Manic Pixie Dream Girl. But that was then, and this is now. We’re two years past the storm of Zooey-related fervor surrounding 500 Days of Summer, and whatever goodwill she had after that has been completely lost on me while watching FOX’s New Girl.
If only New Girl were the only pilot this year featuring a would-be indie princess, but alas, we have CBS’s 2 Broke Girls, a show I was admittedly very excited for, in no small part to the wonderful Kat Dennings, who has been relegated to supporting roles for too long and is destined for greatness. 2 Broke Girls won’t get her there.
I doubt you remember Andy Richter Controls the Universe. Heck, I doubt anybody does. It was a fairly rote sitcom, unceremoniously cancelled in 2003 for its low ratings, which averaged around 8 million viewers a week. The show aired on FOX, then the fourth-place network in America. (This is a pre-American Idol world, mind you.)
In 2011, NBC’s biggest scripted hit is The Office, which averages, not kidding, 8 million viewers. The number of viewers FOX scoffed at eight years ago are now the champagne wishes of NBC executives, who hold on for dear life to any show with numbers above 4 million.
What happened to the Peacock, the network of Seinfeld, Friends and Cheers? Johnny Carson probably rolls in his grave while his beloved NBC is stuck in fourth place, only ahead of the CW (which, really, is barely a network anyway).
In NBC’s defense, there’s no denying that the TV landscape is markedly different than it was even at the conclusion of Friends in 2004. DVRs and web streaming have made appointment TV obsolete, and American Idol’s best days are still pulling in ratings that would be a disappointment for any top 20 show in the 1990s.