Sitcoms are shows which are easy to get right and even easier to get wrong. You basically have a set of characters, most of them very one-dimensional, and put them through a series of events, more or less unfortunate, so we can laugh at them and forget about our miserable jobs and lost dreams for 30 minutes.
And as much as I love sitcoms, there are a few recurrent themes which I see in most of them and some are really irritating. And I am now going to list 5 of them:
1. The semi-dysfunctional family
You know why I like The Middle? Because it shows us the events that a mother of 3 has to go through in her life, juggling between a very narcissistic and self-obsessed son, a very zealous daughter and a socially estranged little son, all with a smile and somehow being able to instill some guidance as to where they should end up in life. And it shows that it’s not easy, and it’s ok to have doubts.
And on the other hand you have the Harper family in Two and a Half Men, every family except for the Gellers in Friends, Barney’s family in How I Met Your Mother and so on. It’s ok to have some tension between some family members, but to have so many of them divorced/slutty/etc. (Evelyn Harper, Judith Harper, Rachel’s mom if I remember correctly in Friends) is just tiresome at times.
2. The womanizer guy
Seriously, it’s like every other sitcom has this guy. You have Charlie Harper, Barney Stinson, Joey Tribbiani, Russell Dunbar etc. I guess it’s an easy gimmick to go to, but…I don’t know, maybe it’s because I can’t identify with such characters given that I was never the womanizer guy in school. It’s less annoying than the first one, but it tends to get old real fast.
3. Less than stellar work attitude for the main characters
One thing Friends did ABSOLUTELY brilliant is show the struggle that some people have with their jobs and also show that if you have the correct attitude and you fight for the job you want, you will get it, even though I still don’t get how they kept their jobs considering that they hung out at Central Perk so much. But there are other shows, such as King of Queens which portray their characters as being way too in their comfort zone and with no will to act in order to improve their status. And while I’ve met complacent people, it’s really not a good thing to portray this as a good thing, even if you use it as humor. But if that humor only results in the character going back to his comfort zone…you get the idea.
4. Promiscuity, both male and female
You have Seinfeld, in which Jerry is dating a different person every other episode. You also have Friends, where Joey and Rachel seem to be going through different partners every other 2 or three episodes. And don’t even get me started on Ted Mosby… I’m not saying pick the first guy or girl you meet and get married, but seriously, tone it down a bit.
5. Weird and questionable social etiquette and values
Seinfeld leads the way at this chapter, but in the end they actually get punished for it, by being sent to jail. You also have other examples, with the whole bro code and Barney’s playbook, Ross’s overreaction when seeing Joey and Rachel, because…reasons. And you also have this weird marriage like thing in King of Queens, where Carrie bosses Doug around and forces him to not go to some places because SHE hates the guys there. And of course, there will always be Al Bundy. At least Al has these amazing philosophical speeches when not behaving or doing questionable…anything.
So there it is, my list of 5 annoying things in sitcoms. I’m not saying that sitcoms are bad for showing us these things, it’s just that they seriously need to combine them with other situations as well. These same old routines tend to get boring at times.