Comic Talk and General Discussion *

Spoiled adults: or how bad sitcom writing can harm good people. (Kind of a vent)
Furwerk studio at 9:44PM, Jan. 30, 2021
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Hey. Uh, this is kind of less a deep thoughts about a subject and more of a vent about something that has been bothering me about ABC sitcoms, especially about family.

Set up here, I was helping my mom with something being moral support because my aunt had set her up on a blind date, we all went to a small burger joint, my mom meeting the guy while my aunt and I stayed at a different table but were there in case something happened.

It was extremely unnerving because me and my mom lost my step father not too long ago, as in not even two months of posting this, and we just moved from Baltimore to Missouri leaving a lot behind. Both of us have a ton of grief from many sources, without much outlet.

I finished lunch, paid and went out to the car because I didn't want to hold up a booth, my aunt followed suit because the “date” was almost over, and mom was having a horrible time. I found a little later she broke down and cried, because the guy, who is twenty years older than my mom, would not stop talking about being “saved”, his church and Christ, honestly I'm surprised a big scene didn't break out.

So, me and my aunt where outside, I was unaware of what's happening and thinking everything was going okay, actually, no, I was a bit of a basket case on the inside but not very sure what to do in the situation because it was just all sorts of messed up, dealing with it I just played a game on my phone, when my aunt just plugged her phone into the stereo, and put on the Goldbergs.

I have a very deep dislike for Post-TGIF sitcoms on ABC, and I will get why in a second but I'm stuck in the car, listening to the Goldburgs and trying to endure the faux-nostalgia when the boys in the show wanted to be rappers just like Will Smith, which caused me to squirm but more in an embarrassed and mentally going “wait a minute, it was nothing like that!” when it happened, the moment the boys made a distrack about the dad.

The dad came out pissed and starts screaming, which is understandable. What is NOT understandable is how he kept screaming at them about how they are spoiled, and rotten, and forces the boy's friends to stand there and treat them in the same trash way.

I didn't find it funny. I actually had a massive anxiety attack because of it.

I've been in situations just like that, where a dad gets so mad they wish murdered their kids and scream, and threw a massive hissy fit. And even roped me into the hate they would spew, and those kinds of dads were not good sitcom people but very, very bad people who get CPS called on them regularly, they were walking Lifetime movie villains.

It's still screwing with me right now, imagining if it was just like real life the screaming would not be a triumphant moment for the father facing down his bad kids, but an episode of cops with the boys screaming back as tempers rose before somebody tries to murder somebody else, or the other parent of of the boys coming by to scream at the dad “what the hell, asshole!”

It's something that bothers me about ABC sitcoms, like “My wife and Kids,” “Modern Family” and so many more is in those shows the parents tend to be karma Houdini that escape any kind of repercussions while actively punishing the kids. The relationship is never strained, nobody goes too far and physically assaults someone else, the “lessons” never backfire and causes serious harm or ends in legal issues.

I am sorry to be so all over the place but honestly I would like to talk about this because it's not just about fiction, but how it's kind of really weird that it's seems to be not only “okay” to be a horrible, screaming child but actually rewarded for it as long the person project this image of being a “proper, mature adult” of the 1950's.

I really don't know what to say about this, there is hundreds upon hundreds of different ways I can tear this apart but I do want to say the reason I brought this up is because it feels, wrong. I don't want to throw around an over used word but I want to say this is “problematic” in the same vein as “mental illness equals violent and dangerous”, “build a bridge and get over it”, and “work hard, and you'll go places.”

It's just one of those things we should challenge, pull apart and question why this keeps happening and is it healthy for society.
last edited on Jan. 30, 2021 9:45PM
bravo1102 at 2:59AM, Jan. 31, 2021
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You could subtitle the post “how bad sitcom writing hurts good people.”

Another reason I really can't stand family sitcoms. I always preferred the ones where the blustery parent got their comeuppance and learned their lesson even if they do date from that otherworldly time of the 1950s-60s.

There's also the limitations of the format with fully representing a nuanced interaction and its consequences in 20-45 minutes of screen time. How do you resolve things when the climax comes at minute 18 and there's less than five minutes left? A roomful of writers and none have a clue because what they're doing is so far outside their life experiences and knowledge base.

Something more to be said for writing what you know.

Sometimes I think sitcoms should be written by at least MSWs who've handled a few interventions and the therapy around them.
last edited on Jan. 31, 2021 3:00AM
Furwerk studio at 5:58AM, Jan. 31, 2021
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bravo1102 wrote:
You could subtitle the post “how bad sitcom writing hurts good people.”

Another reason I really can't stand family sitcoms. I always preferred the ones where the blustery parent got their comeuppance and learned their lesson even if they do date from that otherworldly time of the 1950s-60s.

There's also the limitations of the format with fully representing a nuanced interaction and its consequences in 20-45 minutes of screen time. How do you resolve things when the climax comes at minute 18 and there's less than five minutes left? A roomful of writers and none have a clue because what they're doing is so far outside their life experiences and knowledge base.

Something more to be said for writing what you know.

Sometimes I think sitcoms should be written by at least MSWs who've handled a few interventions and the therapy around them.

Edited the title, it does sound better now.

But on subject I can't really answer the interactions because if one boiled it down said interaction can come off hollow, wrong or “as whiny” as many would say. I do think it is worth bringing up the subject.

And about sitcom writers, from what I read from people who worked with them that they can be gatekeeping assholes who are very detached from reality. And I would had written this off as a generation thing, Boomer vs Gen X vs Millennial vs Doomer, but I read the same kind of complaints and comments from other parts of media, from live action movie producers to animation cel dusters, not many really likes dealing with Sitcom people.
usedbooks at 6:02AM, Jan. 31, 2021
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I never liked family sitcoms (with children or teenagers) from any age. I'm not a fan of sitcoms where the ensemble cast spends most of the time trying to “hook up” either (except for Golden Girls). My favorites were I Love Lucy, The Nanny, and any “work based” sitcoms like Cheers, Night Court, Get Smart, Wings, etc. I think the only family-based sitcoms I ever actually enjoyed were Dinosaurs and The Addams Family.

Btw, one thing that's unique about I Love Lucy is that the writers didn't care about resolution. Episodes were written to a punchline. They quite often didn't resolve whatever the conflict was. It was more like a long sketch comedy. And no one cared. The audience didn't need a resolution because it wasn't a world to suspend disbelief and get emotionally invested in. It was just pure entertainment.
usedbooks at 6:07AM, Jan. 31, 2021
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My sister won't watch I Love Lucy because of the inherent misogyny of wives being treated like children, on allowances, with rules set by husbands, and the suggestions of punishments, etc. It wasn't a big part of the show (as it was with others around that time). But it was society at the time. The humor is timeless, but the setting is dated.
bravo1102 at 7:15AM, Jan. 31, 2021
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I Love Lucy is classic because the characters are broad comical archetypes and not meant to be real. It's a show about nothing without theme and often barely a plot but comedy and punchlines.

It invented the sitcom format but at the same time transcended it as few other shows ever have since. Despite much of Lucy and other black and white TV and movie comedy being so dated it doesn't stop writers and producers from recycling the same jokes and situations again and again. Some can get fresh life out of the material (Mel Brooks for one) others its just cut and paste and missing the point.

Lucille Ball was smarter than most and played her “childlike” archetype who is often smarter than the other more adult characters and manages to fool them again and again. She was also an incredible business woman. She laughed last. It should also be pointed out how much she is indebted to the Marx Brothers. She admitted as much later saying she learned a lot about timing and creating situations from them, especially Harpo, the original hapless child who usually is smarter and certainly more resourceful than the adults in the room.

You can often tell when a sitcom is written by mature experienced writers (Dick Van Dyke, Golden Girls) and when it's written by precocious know nothing know-it-alls.
usedbooks at 7:40AM, Jan. 31, 2021
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bravo1102 wrote:
You can often tell when a sitcom is written by mature experienced writers (Dick Van Dyke, Golden Girls) and when it's written by precocious know nothing know-it-alls.
I started paying attention to writers' credits on shows. Christopher Lloyd had his hand in a lot of my favorites.
Ozoneocean at 10:52PM, Jan. 31, 2021
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Family sitcoms tend to suck…
Except married with Children and The Simpsons and Bob's Burgers haha!
 
bravo1102 at 2:51AM, Feb. 1, 2021
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Ozoneocean wrote:
Family sitcoms tend to suck…
Except married with Children and The Simpsons and Bob's Burgers haha!
There's little to no pretense of being realistic. The characters are all broadly drawn archetypes, even exaggerations. We all know people who fit into those categories but none are that bad. Just like It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Borderline ridiculous.

I haven't followed a sitcom since The Drew Carey Show and that was last century.
BearinOz at 5:15AM, Feb. 1, 2021
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I can watch very few U.S. sitcoms… actually it's not much different for U.K. or Oz ones either. I love humour. Stand-up comedy, & the humour in U.K. ‘celebrity’ game shows, like “8 Out OF Ten Cats”, etc.

“Liking humour” is my downfall, though, as I find the spurious tripe that passes for it on most sitcoms, doesn't raise a twitch ( maybe a grimace ), let alone an actual smile. I see promos for heaps (when I'm a bit slow reaching for he controller B) ). Formulated. If it needs a “canned laughter”, it's not gonna make me laugh.

There's been some classic stuff, over the decades -
“Seinfeld” is great example !, decades earlier The Lucy Show, Happy Days, until it got ‘tired’. “Soap” I loved. a few others were passably amusing.

In the U.K. “Steptoe & Son *1” , “Porridge *2” , “Fawlty Towers” , “Till Death DO US Part *3” were all brilliant… but they've had plenty of crap too !

*1 - was rather nicely redone as Sandford & Son, in the U.S., & my wife loved it - I missed a lot, due to shiftwork, but I saw a few.
*2 - The dismal failure “On The Rocks” over there.
*3 - over there was the somewhat tamer “All In The Family”, but I guess it had to be, given the blandness of U.S. shows prior to it, & easily panicked sponsors and very conservative audiences B-)


…with the BBC able to show anything without that constraint, and ITV needing to compete, We had things like full-frontal nudity in some plays, before 1970 B-) My dear old Gran was most disappointed, to miss the first male one, in a play she went to bed before… Haha B-)


 
Ozoneocean at 1:17AM, Feb. 2, 2021
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I love sitcoms in general, just not family ones so much.
Always Sunny in Philadelphia is pure art.

There are so many good ones:
The Office (both versions)
Bellow Decks (animated star trek)
30 Rock
News Radio
Seinfeld
Even crap like New Girl grows on you.

And so much more
 
bravo1102 at 2:58AM, Feb. 3, 2021
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Sandford & Son was very insightful for the 1970s, and really came to reflect Redd Foxx more than the British series that inspired it. Compare it to his stand up. It was also great in doing subtle homage to the pioneer work of the Amos and Andy TV series. ( the first TV series with an all black cast and showing black people in positions of responsibility as opposed to servitude. Been watching episodes on YouTube. Many of the situations and plots would be reused in The Honeymooners and later)

That's a family sitcom for the ages that really transcended thd medium. The Honeymooners is sheer gold. I really discovered it since the local station ran it before the Twilight Zone so I was always catching episodes.

Ralph always got his comeuppance for his abuse and Alice could really give as well as she got. There was real love there and a lot hits home after 26 years of marriage.
last edited on Feb. 3, 2021 3:03AM
Ozoneocean at 5:53PM, Feb. 3, 2021
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I've never seen Sanford and Son, but I did like the original: Steptoe and Son, Bearing Oz talks about.
It's a really weird and original setting: It's two junkmen, a father and son who collect rubbish as salvage to sell. They have a horse and cart that they drive through the streets… That's a relic of the 1920s and earlier that was still just barely hanging on into the 1960s in London in a time of vast social and technological change!

The father character was a veteran of WW1 and his son from WW2… The dad is in his 70s, the son in his 40s, they live at home together and work together. the son takes care of the dad but the dad still treats him as a child, when he's not being a dirty old man and an evil bastard… he's pathetic, miserly, greedy, pessimistic, scheming,nasty, and afraid. His son Harold is a giant of a man and can be terrifying but normally he's pathetic, optimistic, hopeful, and trying to better himself or capture a carefree youth that he never had, trying to break out of the lost-in-time 1920s world his dad has got them both stuck in and join the 60s/70s world of the present day.

They hate and despise each other (like the real actors did) but also love and care for each other too.
 
BearinOz at 12:59AM, Feb. 6, 2021
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A pretty good review of S&S, there, Ozone. There were still “Rag'n'bone” men like them - complete with horse'n'cart - into the early ‘60s (my early teens in Cardiff), but as you say, they were obsolescent by then.

I never mentioned a few sitcoms we watched with the kids here….
a couple of which have had a ’cloud' cast over them, via subsequent events.
“Family Ties” … “The Cosby Show” … and Australia's “Hey, Dad !”, which I thought one of the best local ones, along with “Mother & Son”, which was a classic… a not too dissimilar family dynamic to “S&S”

( “Kingswood Country” wasn't too bad, in its day)
 
bravo1102 at 9:10AM, Feb. 8, 2021
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Seen some Steptoe and Son on YouTube and it pales in comparison to Sandford and Son. Consider that Sandford and Son had a nearly all black recurring cast and only one white recurring character (a clueless police officer) and Fred's racism was usually directed at Hispanics. Just like California in the 1970s. The Watts riots were even referenced. (I cannot claim responsibility for the pun about the show featuring white junk men versus a superior show about black junk men paling in comparison it was in an ancient TV guide)

I actually preferred it, the Jeffersons and Good Times to Happy Days. My mom and grandma wouldn't watch Happy Days as Laurence Welk was on Tuesday nights but since I hated Laurence Welk, I watched Happy Days. My sixth grade class even had a writing assignment about the fifties. Funny as one student did the 2050s and I did AD 50 about ancient Rome.
last edited on Feb. 8, 2021 9:12AM

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