Monday, May 16, 2011
Death of the Rad Sitcom
Last week I was home "sick" (mental health day) and was reminded of one of the major reasons being unemployed sucked. Aside from the obvious fact that I was low on funds to buy alcohol and eat meals that didn't feature Ramen noodles, being unemployed sucked balls because of all the daytime tv I had to watch. During the day, between the time Sportscenter stops running and primetime television starts, there is nothing to watch on TV. I mean eventually you've seen every Law & Order SVU episode or at least want to maybe watch some lighter fare that doesn't involve child rape investigations. Your major daytime viewing option other than Judge Judy and Soap Operas, are modern sitcom re-runs. I think I'm stating the obvious when I say that modern sitcoms all pretty much blow. They all follow the same basic format. Either some fat average Joe and his disproportionately hot wife, deal with their daily domestic disputes, and annoying in-laws. Or some group of young adults face go through the rigors of living single in the city, and meet someplace daily (bar/coffee shop) to discuss white people problems. Booowring. There's a reason people are always nostalgic about sitcoms from the 80's and 90's. Old school sitcoms were fucking Rad. They all were based around some creatively ridiculous premise, and there was never a dull moment. If you don't believe me read on as I analyze my list of the top Rad old school sitcoms.
Mr. Belvedere: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IUSSrldd0U
Pretty logical premise to this one. Some middle class family in Pittsburgh randomly decides they need a smartass English butler. Already pretty ridiculous to all of us who grew up in a modest middle class family. Then we get to the specifics. The family breadwinner rakes in the dough as...a sportswriter, and his wife attends law school. Makes sense that the modest salary of your average Pittsburgh sportswriter, combined with hundreds of thousands of dollars of law school debt would add up to the ability to afford a fucking English butler. Also worth noting, there are three kids in the family, and two of them are in high school, with one child in elementary school. Why the hell do they need a butler/essentially a live-in nanny? Once I was about nine my mom could give a shit whether I was home alone. Do these kids really need to enjoy fine dining every evening? Hey moms in law school, times are tough. Just because she doesn't have time for home cooking anymore doesn't mean these brats can't warm up a fucking Hungry Man dinner or pick up a bucket of KFC during the week.
Perfect Strangers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vbnLYROCj8
Another sensible concept for a story. Larry is a single guy living in Chicago, makings ends meet living in a single bedroom apartment. One day completely out of the blue his "distant cousin" Balki from some obscure Eastern European country shows up on his doorsteps and insists on living with him. Ok what? Lets Ignore the obvious point that I would never let some distant relative I've never met before from a strange foreign country live with me in my bro pad. How exactly did Balki find Larry? We're talking pre-internet and pre-ancestry.com, yet somehow some rural bumpkin (Balki was a shephard) from a small island finds the name and address of his distant cousin in America. Also if he's such a "distant" cousin why the fuck did Balki pick him to live with? Is Larry the only guy in the family tree in America? Wouldn't Larry also know that his family lineage had roots in the Greek islands? Long story short, there's no way some smelly foreign cousin who looks like a cast member from River Dance randomly shows up, and tells me he's gonna be crashing on the couch and freeloading for a couple years while he "gets a feel for American culture."
Party of Five: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBsHfxhCxEU
I know what you're thinking. This post is supposed to be about comedy sitcoms, not drama series'. Well just listen to the premise of this show and tell me it isn't hiilarious. Some family of five kids in suburban San Francisco loses their parents when some Rad Dude..err I mean irresponsible drunk driver..crashes into them.So now the kids have to raise themselves and take over the daily operation of the family restaurants. What kind of asshole relatives do these kids have? Their fucking parents die in a car accident and NOBODY amongst their next of kin wants to help out? Hey grandma, I know we're asking a lot, but since mommy and daddy went flying off a bridge you think you could maybe take care of us for a bit? Uncle Jim? Aunt Meg? Yeah no, apparently this family of suburban white kids have the worst relatives ever and have to fend for themselves. Also an interesting age range among the kids, as the oldest is 24 year old Charlie and the youngest is a one year old baby. Responsible decision by the parents of four kids aged 24, 15, 16 and 11 respectively to have a baby. "Hey we have two kids heading to college soon, another one still living under our roof at 24 and a fifth grader, yeah we definitely can afford another kid." Jennifer Love Hewitt's rack and rebellious son Bailey's hilarious battle with alcoholism were easily the main highlights of this "serious family drama."
My Two Dads: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHXeo57xj3k
The only show on this list that also could have been the name of a Maury Povich episode. Just listen to the description and then feel free to read into what it really means.
"Nicole's mother dies. Two men who were competing for her mother's affections are awarded joint custody of the girl. The mixups of two single men raising a teenage daughter provide the weekly storyline."
Seriously just read that again without your head exploding. WHAT? So basically two guys were banging Nicole's slut of a mother at the same time and presumably one of them knocked her up. Courts in 1987 apparently couldn't go to great lengths and make use of oh I don't know...a paternity test..to find out who the dad is, so they just gave these two middle aged bros a daughter to raise (again no other family in sight to intervene). Also, seriously these guys don't even question whether the kid really was their own? I mean if the mom was hooking up with both of them at the same time, who's to say she didn't have a half dozen other "suitors" who were "fighting for her affections" (slamming her)? No this is all far too logical for the world of 80's sitcoms. Two guys that were both nailing some woman, that may or may not have been the father of her offspring, just drop everything to move in together and raise their former fling's daughter when she dies. Lets just gloss over the obvious detail that the girl's promiscuous mother just suddenly died of unknown causes in her early 30s. Might wanna take a trip and get your shit checked out at the clinic boys...
Charles in Charge: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLY05HtYP1g
Just like in Mr. Belvedere, we again have middle class Northeastern family in need of domestic help. Except this time substitute New Jersey for Pittsburgh. Oh, and instead of actually hiring a nanny/butler/housekeeper with experience in the field, they just randomly hire some 19 yr old college bro. Instead of a salary, they give him free room and board in exchange for his duties as glorified babysitter. Yeah that seems like a sound plan. I mean when I was a college sophomore you wouldn't want me watching your fucking hamster for a weekend, but I'm sure most other 19 year olds are definitely mature enough to handle that sort of responsibility. I mean yeah post afternoon gravity bong hit, I'm sure the kid did a great job remembering to pick the kids up from soccer practice. The best subplot of this show is the fact that original idiot family that hired Scott Baio to watch their kids only lived in the house for a year. So obviously after this, he had to find a new living/employment arrangement right? Nah. He got such a glowing review from the first family, that when they sublet their home and moved to Seattle, the new family allowed him to stay under the exact same terms. Oh btw the new family's daughter looked like this:
Yeah the chances of a statutory rape fiasco when you let a college junior bro babysit your hot blonde teenage daughter...zero percent. Way to really think that one through, new residents.
Full House: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fI_jdOrYPc
Pretty much the ridiculous sitcom to end all ridiculous sitcoms. Ok so once again somebody is killed by some asshole drunk driver (apparently the production of every 80's/90's sitcom was funded by M.A.D.D.), In this case Danny Tanner's wife. So Danny Tanner has the semi-reasonable idea to get his Rad brother-in-law and aspiring rock musician Jesse to help him raise his three young daughters. Ok that part I can get behind. Why Danny then decided to get his "quirky" comedian friend Joey Gladstone to move in and help out with taking care of the girls..that part I'm completely lost on. Joey Gladstone has got to be one of the creepiest characters in the history of television. Some 30 something single guy who does Popeye impersonations and loves to tickle little girls. Yeah definitely no red flags there. If "Full House" had lasted into Michelle's teen years, Uncle Joey would definitely have been guilty of buying Parrot Bay and wine coolers for all her friends as official "chaperone" of the weekend slumber party at the Tanner household. If he wasn't a perv, Uncle Joey was at the very least a closet homosexual.
As if this house wasn't crowded enough, Uncle Jesse then starts banging Danny's co-host on a hit morning show Becky, and she moves in. HUH? First of all why is Katie Couric dating an aspiring rock star without a record deal? Second...why are they not staying at her house? Then of course they get married..have twins...and still don't fucking leave. What the hell? Why wouldn't you get your own place? Not Danny's fault you can't afford a nursery on your tips from Open Mic night. Once two of the three girls were in high school, did Danny Tanner still need that much help in taking care of the kids? Couldn't D.J. just watch her little sisters. Couldn't creepball Uncle Joey with his "aspiring" comedy career have moved out at this point? Couldn't all domestic responsibilities have been handled by Danny and one English butler, or college sophomore? I don't know, anything to avoid this wave of freeloaders Danny had to support. Of course these ideas are all the product of "logic," and I think at this point we've firmly established that logic and reason have no place within the confines of the Rad old school sitcom.