After years and years of putting in time in front of the small screen, any tín đồ of television can point out a bad sitcom without much of a problem. I certainly can, & I was able to say that way before I started doing this for a living.

Bạn đang xem: Why sitcoms like ‘friends with better lives’ never stand a chance

So I might as well not mince words: “Friends With Better Lives”, currently airing on CBS on Monday at 8:30 PM Eastern, is a bad sitcom. For the time being, at least. & what stinks is that it’s squandering what potential it might have to be the next great hangout sitcom, and the Eye Net may not give it time to lớn get there.

But why is “FWBL” so bad? The easy answer, of course, is that it’s just not funny. But I’m not obnoxious enough (at least not in public) khổng lồ deem myself the sole arbiter of what’s funny. For all I know, there are millions out there who have watched the show’s first four episodes while holding their sides from all the laughs the show gave them.


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Why have shows lượt thích “The Big Bang Theory” worked for the most part since day one, despite being in the derided multi-camera format? Because the characters’ personalities were established from the start, so jokes immediately came out of Sheldon’s Asperger-y tendencies, Leonard’s desire to lớn be normal, Raj’s inability to lớn connect with women & Howard’s sliminess.

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On “FWBL,” there’s potential for that, especially between Will & the utterly single, successful, thắm thiết cynic Kate (Zoe Lister Jones). We saw that in the second episode where they couldn’t bring themselves khổng lồ kiss each other, even if it cost the both of them an intriguing menage a trois with yet another bar encounter. But Kate was also helping Will develop some game, và it’s definitely feeding a love-hate friendship that could flower into something more. The other four characters — married couple Andi và Bobby (Majandra Delfino, Kevin Connolly) & just-engaged lovebirds Jules and Lowell (Brooklyn Decker, Rick Donald) — are just not developed enough to do anything but spew snide one-liners.

The show also does a lot of telling & not a lot of showing. When you rely on gags, especially ones that tread the network standards and practices taste line, you tend lớn have to use a lot more words than you need. There could have been better ways, for instance, for the sexting jokes khổng lồ play out than khổng lồ just have a series of dick jokes. More looks of horror or laughs or exasperation would have gone much further than a torrent of wisecracks. In the threesome episode, there was a plot where the friends chide Jules for becoming a vegetarian lượt thích her Aussie fiancé; in a scene where she eats a burger, she’s almost as orgasmic as Meg Ryan at Katz’s Deli. And while the scene didn’t completely work, và a squirt of mayo coming out of the burger was a bit on the nose, I give the writers credit for not explaining the joke with too many words.

It also doesn’t help lớn have plotlines that have been done to lớn death on sitcoms for eons. In the sexting episode, Bobby & Lowell tear through a hospital tennis tournament, largely on the strength of the usually Zen-like Lowell being a taunting, competitive freak. But the plot fell apart immediately when two senior docs threaten Bobby with professional hell if they don’t throw the match. Why not play on Lowell’s ferociousness và how much it offended people instead of going the route of “throw the match or there will be trouble?”

There’s nothing really new about “Friends With Better Lives,” but there’s enough there to think that, with the time that most sitcoms need lớn find their legs, a lot of the problems detailed above can be worked out. But the show’s dismal ratings, paired with the looming upfront season, means that “FWBL” probably won’t get that chance. That sort of limited window makes it all the more important for sitcoms to debut with strong characters, even if it takes time for those characters to lớn find their voice. “FWBL” didn’t bởi that, and it’ll likely pay the price for it.