Thoughts on Friends With Benefits, Relationship Sitcoms, and Production Vacuums

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After pushing back the premiere of Friends with Benefits by more than a month, NBC finally debuted the show last night. As the sixth in a line of relationship sitcoms from the 2010-2011 season, it’s bound to be overlooked, but I’ll offer some thoughts about it and how it compares to those shows after the jump. More

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Kicking the Habit: Why It’s Easy to Give Up on Some TV Shows and Hard to Give Up on Others

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As you may have noticed, I stopped writing about Wilfred a couple of weeks ago, not because I stopped watching, but because I couldn’t bring myself to care enough about it to put my fingers to the keyboard and type 400+ words about it. The show has thus far been a mixed bag. I like the concept, and Jason Gann and Elijah Wood have great comic chemistry, but the execution usually falls flat. For that reason, I’ve voiced my disappointment about the show in various fora, both on- and offline. But to my dismay, in those fora, I’ve been met with the question: “So why are you still watching?”

My knee-jerk reaction, if I’d chosen to express it, would have been, “Why the hell do you care? It’s none of your business why I do what I do.” In many cases, being asked why one is still watching is a way to dismiss legitimate complaints as mindless kvetching from the peanut gallery, and it detracts from valuable discussions of a critical nature.

However, I still think it’s a valid question. Though TV viewers are far from the hyperrational model of Homo Economicus espoused by the mathematically-inclined, they don’t subject themselves to torture for no good reason. It’s therefore odd that so many people watch TV shows and perpetually complain about how awful they are (the cathartic benefit of complaining aside, of course). In the case of Wilfred, I can provide reasons for why I’m still watching: I like the ideas, I like the cast, and I think the show has the potential to improve. I stuck with Traffic Light for its entire run for similar reasons, despite the fact that the show almost never made me laugh:1 I loved its low-key vibe, and I sensed the possibility of improvement in its future (which never came because the show was cancelled. Oh well.)

But what about shows that have been running for a long time, or shows that used to entertain me, but no longer do? In those cases, the “I think it’ll get better argument” doesn’t work as well. I watch a surprising number of series like that. I recently realized that fact when I noticed that three of the series that I wrote about in my “Five Shows That Should Have Been Cancelled” post (henceforth referred to as “RR1”) a few weeks ago were also mentioned in my “Epic Fail” post (henceforth referred to as “RR2”) from last summer. In other words, this past season, I watched three series that I had vowed to abandon. After some self-reflection, I’ve been able to put some explanations for my TV watching habits to words. I can speak only for my personal experience, but I hope that the readers of this blog will be able to relate. After the jump, I’ll take a look at some TV shows that I’ve given up on or tried to give up on, as well as how fandom, critics, and other external factors may have affected my perceptions of those programmes. More

Happy Endings and The Season of Relationship Sitcoms

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In light of the news that NBC’s long-delayed Friends with Benefits is set to premiere on June 25th, I think it’s an appropriate time to take a look back at what has arguably been this season’s most common genre of new comedies: the relationship sitcom. Not counting Friends with Benefits, no fewer than 5 sitcoms about people in various stages of their romantic lives debuted on American network television: Perfect Couples, Traffic Light, Happy Endings, Better with You, and Mad Love. I never watched those last two; both were multi-camera sitcoms that I had very little interest in watching. But I did watch all of Perfect Couples and Traffic Light, and I’ve seen all of Happy Endings that has aired so far.

Whether the glut of these shows was caused by simple coincidence or by a prevailing false belief among network execs that such sitcoms would be wildly popular, we’ll never know. What we do know is that all 5 of those comedies were critically panned, and all but one was them was cancelled. The sole survivor: Happy Endings. More

The 2010-2011 Refrigerator Rants End-of-Season Awards

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With the 2010-2011 television season more or less over and summer TV about to begin or recently having begun, it’s time to take a look back at the best that the past year brought us.

Before we dive in, I have to make one thing clear: I don’t watch most television shows, and I barely watch any cable television. I do watch a lot of television on the whole, but not nearly enough to make a fair assessment of what was truly the “best.” For that reason, the awards will be skewed towards the shows that I watch. So don’t go crying about my failure to include The Good Wife, Mad Men, or Friday Night Lights. I don’t watch those shows. With that mind, let’s get started! More