A blog about movies and filmmaking.

The Modern Sitcom & How I Love Them

In comedy, television on January 23, 2010 at 4:41 am

There’s not a lot I watch on television – though my subscriptions to HULU would suggest otherwise. (hey, it’s only 17 shows!) But, I have to say that this season’s comedies are probably some of my favorites, ever. Yes, I’ve written about all these shows before, but that was when they were brand new. Now we’re on the second half of the first season for most of them; and they’re all just as good, if not better, than when they started.

First there’s COUGAR TOWN, from the people that brought us SCRUBS (I’m only counting the first couple of seasons, after that, I stopped watching, and don’t even want to know what the new version’s all about.), starring Courteney Cox, Brian Van Holt, Christa Miller and Busy Phillips. The story revolves around Jules (Cox – when did she drop the Arquette, anyway?!) who is recently divorced from Bobby (Van Holt), and has a son, Travis (played by the dour, yet hilarious Dan Byrd). She runs a real estate company, and her assistant is Laurie (Phillips) – a distzy blonde, bimbo. Don’t worry the character would find that a compliment.

Their oh-so-lovable neighbors are Ellie (Miller) and Andy Torres (played by the AMAZING!! Ian Gomez); and the snooty, player of the across the street neighbor, Grayson is played by Josh Hopkins. Grayson is sort of the new guy to the group, as he’s recently divorced also, and is spending it getting busy with every young girl he sees. Of course this drives Jules crazy; because she’s having trouble just trying to get one date, or even keep control over her manic lifestyle.

The story is a simple one. Quirky characters, coming together to form a family. It’s endearing, it’s snarky, and it’s always hilarious. Van Holt has the too-dumb to know the difference attitude down (and it’s kind of a play on his character from JOHN FROM CINCINNATI). Travis is the unfortunate teenager who has to deal with, and see just how messed up the adults he’s surrounded by are. Though he also manages to score some helpful tips on how to be a man, and how to deal with women and all their little idiosyncrasies. The only downside to the show, is that the only real “Cougar” is Barb (played wonderfully in her much-underused role, by Carolyn Hennesy), a minxy red-head that shows up at the perfect moment to embarrass Jules, or make some kind of lewd comment.

COUGAR TOWN airs on Wednesdays @9:30, on ABC – or the day after on HULU (that’s how I watch it.)

MODERN FAMILY is another ABC comedy, that is about three separate families – who we learn at the end of the first episode, are actually all one big family! The interactions here are magnificient. First there’s the most conventional (I daresay, “stereotypical”) family, played by Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen, playing Phil and Claire Dunphy. They have three kids, Haley, Alex and Luke. Haley’s the dumb, teenage daughter that only cares about looks and boys. Alex is sort of the family genius, and goes out of her way to show how dumb Haley is. Luke…well, he likes to eat glue, but he’s very endearing. Phil and Claire and perfect examples of “opposites attract”. Phil’s a nerdy, “gotta be the cool dad” and impress everyone, kind of guy. Claire, is sort of a snobby, stuck-up bitch – but still lovable. (She is played by Carol Vessey, for God’s sake!!)

The second family is Cameron and Mitchell, a gay couple; who adopt a Vietnamese baby and are still working out the rough edges of their relationship. Cameron is flamboyant and very caring of other people. Mitchell, much like his sister Claire (see!!! related!) is kind of snooty and carries a big stick up his…*ahem* about intolerance and well, self-gratification. Mitchell is played by Jesse Ferguson, and he’s brilliant in the role. There’s the antagonistic relationship he has with his sister; his embarrassment of Cam during certain moments, but he really just wants a quiet, normal life. Cameron, who is over the top, and really the giant teddy-bear of the show, is played by Eric Stonestreet. He’s hilarious, in the different things he does, whether it be dress up as a clown; over-do-it in the baby gymnastics class; or just tries to fit in with Mitchell’s dad…

Who is played by none other than Al Bundy, himself, Ed O’Neill. His characer, Jay, is newly married to Gloria (Sofia Vergara); a proud Colombian woman whose son, Manny (played wonderfully by Rico Rodriguez) is mature beyond his years – maybe the most mature character on the show.

Those are the three families, the hijinks that plays between one, and all three is hilarious. There’s Phil’s stumbling whenever Gloria is around. Claire and Mitchell’s dealing with their father being kind of distant, and the disappearance of their mother (played in a small role by Shelley Long). The fun part of this show is that it’s shot sort of like THE OFFICE, where the characters are aware of the camera, and there’s cutaways to individual (or group) interviews.

MODERN FAMILY airs on Wednesdays @9:00pm, on ABC – or again on HULU.

Finally, there’s COMMUNITY. This is probably my newest favorite show – it’s kind of tied with GLEE, though they’re kind of different animals. It stars Joel McHale as Jeff; he puts together a study group for his Spanish class, which is a ruse to try and hook up with Britta (played by Gillian Jacobs). Instead, an actual little clique, kind of forms between the seven people in this study group. The others, Annie (Allison Brie), Troy (Donald Glover), Abed (Danny Pudi), Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown), and of course Pierce played by the legend (who is definitely hitting a comeback) Chevy Chase.

All of the characters have their own little quirks and insecurities. Annie is known as “Annie Adderall” after an incident in high school; where she was in the same school as Troy (who she’s secretly in love with). Troy is dealing with the fact that he used to be a “cool jock” and now he’s just “Troy”. Shirley is a woman scorned and looking to start a new life. Britta…well, she’s kind of a normal college chick. Abed, is awesome. That’s really all I can say about him. Pierce, kind of like Shirley is looking to start fresh – or y’know, I’m not really sure why he’s going back to school. But, he’s obnoxious and racist and pretty much, completely insane. And Jeff, well, he’s a jerk. A lovable one, but a jerk nonetheless.

The fun comes from the characters, not just the main ones listed above, but from the slew of supporting characters. Ken Jeong, as the Spanish teacher (who repeatedly comments on how he’s an Asian teaching Spanish); the Dean, played by Jim Rash, is just odd and comes up with things like the schools new mascot – “The Human Beings.” The show is hilarious from the opening moment, that tends to start in the library where the group meets; all the way to the post-credit sequence, where we usually get Abed and Troy riffing on something to do with the show. It’s awesome, and no it doesn’t make me miss, or even feel the slightest bit like my days in college. Well, except for the racist, old guy.

COMMUNITY airs on Thurday nights @8:00pm, on NBC (C’mon, don’t give me that. It has nothing to do with the Conan thing…Which, no I’m not even going into!! Check out some other blogs on all that business!!)

Sorry, no THE OFFICE, or THE BIG BANG THEORY. Those aren’t my bag, baby. I don’t need people pretending to be nerds; ie. the BIG BANG guys who definitely seem like nerds, but they’re playing nerds out of their depth, which just rings false. So, I don’t dig it. Not a big fan of animated shows (are those even considered sitcoms?), but I actually am looking forward to catching the new ARCHER, on FX.

Anything else I’m missing? Let me know.

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  1. 30 Rock? I know sometimes the show is a tad bit too witty, but it’s so awesome because you get the refrences and feel that the writers “know” you. I know that sounds weird and slightly creepy, but if you watched the show you get what I mean when you watch the show.

    • Yeah, I’ve seen bits and pieces of 30 Rocks, and some The Office; and I actually liked Parks & Recreation. But, I don’t know there’s just something that blocks me from really wanting to watch. Maybe it has something to do with them all taking place in offices/businesses, and everyone’s wearing suits and ties – something that I don’t do and have no connection with.

      But, messed up family life, a stupid college barely worth the title; those are things I can relate to. 😛

      (Thanks for the comment.)

  2. OMG! Courtney is so funny!In Cougar Town “Stiffler’s Mom” has nothing on her!

  3. http://scrubsepisodeguide.weebly.com has all Scrubs episodes free online if you missed them on tv

  4. i probably would not have said this had been trendy some years ago however its amusing how time alters the manner of how you have an understanding of totally different creative concepts, many thanks regarding the post it really is enjoyable to see something intelligent now and then in lieu of the general nonsense mascarading as a blog on the net, i’m off to enjoy a couple of rounds of facebook poker, regards

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