MaHB / TV: Where Have All The (New) Sitcoms Gone?

Esquire Malaysia, July 2015

The Big Bang Theory

Where Have All The (New) Sitcoms Gone?
Amidst all the dramatic hits on television, The Grinder promises to be a breath of fresh air.

By Sophia Goh

Empire and Daredevil are just two of the most exciting new shows to premiere in the past year, so if you haven’t at least checked them out to see where you stand, do it now. I personally found the latter a bit too eager to indulge in gratuitous violence, but I’m guessing that’s all part of its appeal. Besides, there is something very compelling about Charlie Cox’s embodiment of the blind superhero.

It wasn’t until I read about all the new shows during TV upfront season that it dawned on me: where have all the (new) sitcoms gone? Side note: “upfronts” is American television industry jargon for the meetings hosted by television networks that unveil their upcoming season offerings to the press and major advertisers. Besides generating media buzz, it serves the more important purpose of allowing advertisers to buy commercial airtime “up front” based on what they see.

Don’t get me wrong; we’ve got some great ones on the air. The Big Bang Theory wrapped its eighth season not too long ago, and Modern Family is still going strong after six seasons. I’m a huge fan of both, and their longevity speaks for itself, but that’s the point: they’ve been around for years. In fact, when was the last time you saw a really exciting new comedy series? Two and a Half Men ran for 12 seasons, 30 Rock ran for seven. I adore Tina Fey, but even I breathed, not again, when Fey, co-star Alec Baldwin and 30 Rock as a collective earned their umpteenth Emmy / Golden Globe / (insert name of notable award here) nomination/win.

So I was pretty excited when I saw the trailer for The Grinder. Hailed as a standout at this year’s upfronts, it has Rob Lowe as Dean Sanderson, the star of a long-running lawyer TV series who, when the show ends, moves back to his small hometown where his brother Stewart Sanderson, played by Fred Savage, is a real lawyer in the family’s law firm. The two stars seem to play off each other wonderfully, the trailer is hilarious and it shows great potential, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

We live in exciting times as far as TV is concerned. Hollywood stars are flocking in droves to the small screen, eager to flex their acting chops in a medium that, these days, promises them a wider reach and a global audience like never before. Give it another few seasons and there won’t even be a distinction between movie and TV actors anymore.

Television shows have been steadily stepping up their game, and it doesn’t hurt that far too many movies are rubbish these days. The dramatic serials are beyond amazing, but at the same time, I’m wondering when we’ll see the next great TV sitcom à la Friends. Not a cult favourite like Parks and Recreation, which I loved, by the way. The Grinder is unlikely to fill that specific void, but it’s a good start, and, for now, it will have to do.

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