Welcome to another Wildcard Wednesday! Today’s post was partially inspired by NBC’s recent program, Funniest of the Funniest, which aimed to examine the 30 best TV comedy moments from the 30 best TV comedy shows. However, I was displeased not only with the show selection, but also with the clip selection. So are my opinions in the minority? Well, yes and no. In today’s entry, I am voicing nine unpopular opinions that I myself hold about various sitcoms. Feel free to agree, disagree, or simply comment in the space below!
1. I Love Lucy is the most well-written show. And “Job Switching,” the episode that contains the CHOCOLATE FACTORY a.k.a. CANDY FACTORY a.k.a. CONVEYER BELT scene, is outstanding. But that well-known scene is actually not my favorite in the episode. The best moment occurs in the Ricardo kitchen as Ricky and Fred disastrously attempt to prepare dinner. Furthermore, if you want Lucille Ball’s best physical bit, look to the cat fight in “Lucy’s Italian Movie,” a.k.a. GRAPE STOMPING.
2. I love The Honeymooners, and Jackie Gleason is one of the funniest performers that ever lived, but his series is not in the same caliber as I Love Lucy or Cheers or even Seinfeld. Because the show was born from a sketch, the writers never took the time to develop any of the characters except Ralph and Ed. We only learn what we have to know about Alice. And Trixie is one of TV’s sparsest regular characters! Compare this foursome to the cast of I Love Lucy and the difference in depth is shocking.
3. All In The Family is overrated. I won’t bother with some of the forced social stuff, because the show was legitimately laugh-out-loud funny for the first half of its run, but the series is almost painfully bad during its last two, maybe even three, seasons. It’s difficult for me to watch those episodes, and I honestly wish the series ended when Mike and Gloria moved next door. All In The Family was best when Lear didn’t try so hard and stories came FROM the characters. The series is only excellent during its first five seasons.
4. I prefer Coach to Woody on Cheers. Though the latter provided dozens of story opportunities that the former probably couldn’t have, Coach’s lines were more consistently on the mark and he makes me laugh more frequently. That said, Cheers is one of the best sitcoms of all time because each character, even Woody, was so throughly developed that the series had a wealth of story opportunities. With great characters, the scripts were able to be consistently strong.
5. Betty White was MUCH funnier as Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show than as Rose on The Golden Girls. Though I liked Rose, she was often given subpar material, and though I adore White, she just can’t elevate a script like Bea Arthur, who (for the first three seasons at least) turns in one of television’s most consistently uproarious performances as Dorothy Zbornak in The Golden Girls.
6. Married… With Children is a brilliant sitcom satire, and though I’ll never classify it with any of the shows above, it’s consistently funny and probably houses a handful of TV’s funniest moments. And though they ended with OVER-THE-TOP stories like Seinfeld, it didn’t matter because Married… With Children never intended or presumed itself to be brilliant. It simply made us laugh!
7. Seinfeld’s last two seasons, though not without their stellar moments, are a HUGE disappointment when compared to Seasons Three through Seven. Without Larry David, the stories became too cartoonish, as Jerry and company became determined to dovetail every weekly storyline together, often to the detriment of the show and it’s humble, but brilliant initial concept. Furthermore, the show was very condescending in its last two seasons, expecting audiences to love every single noise the characters made.
8. Joey is the least successful character on Friends. Not only does the character’s development regress through the second half of the series, but he’s saddled with unfunny storylines, and more than any other character, is relied upon for incredibly DUMB “buttons” (one-line jokes that end scenes.) Though the series was never a template for exemplary writing, Joey’s lines are often unworthy of an otherwise well-constructed series.
9. Sitcoms dominated by children or babies are rarely funny.
Thanks for reading! Come back next Wednesday for another Wildcard post! And tune in tomorrow as we continue our Xena countdown!