Friday, March 23, 2012
Episode 1278: Why We Love The Sitcom
'Films, perhaps, show us who we want to be, and literature shows us who we actually are. Sitcoms, if they show us anything, show us people we might like to know. Because of this, the sitcom is a medium designed to reassure. The more reassuring the sitcom, the better its chances become at winding up in the financial promised land of syndication, where multi-camera sitcoms fare far better than their single-camera brethren. Most sitcoms are about families, and for the millions who watch them, a sitcom becomes a kind of mental family. Week after week, your couch faces the couch of characters you feel you know, characters whose problems can never quite get solved.' That's a paragraph from an essay by Tom Bissell called 'A Simple Medium: Chuck Lorre and the American Sitcom', which is this week's Small Chair offering from McSweeney's. While I'm not a fan of any of Lorre's sitcoms (The Big Bang Theory has been on for too long for me to get into it, for now), and he apparently frowns upon the manic antics of more recent comedic incarnations like Community, Happy Endings and Suburgatory that I love, the point Bissell makes about the nature of sitcoms seems valid to me. On a related note, slightly gutted that the ratings for the second post-hiatus episode of Community have slumped. To above pre-hiatus levels, admittedly, but still not a good sign.