There IS a Santa Clause

Prepare to rejoice fellow Asian Americans.

ABC has finally released it’s premiere date of its newest sitcom “Fresh Off The Boat.”

The show which has already garnered positive reviews for its pilot has been slotted in the 8pm, Tuesday night slot which was formally held by this year’s (unfortunate miss) “Selfie.”

“Fresh Off The Boat” will be the first primetime sitcom to feature an all Asian American family since Margaret Cho’s “American Girl” in the 90’s.

Let the rejoicing begin!

IT’S A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE.

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Farewell to our favorite menly-men

12 years in the making, the hit sitcom “Two and a Half Men” will finally come to a close on Thursday February 19th, with an hour long series finale.

After a tumultuous run with numerous cast changes, plot twists, and highs and lows inconsistent viewership, the time has come to say goodbye to the Harpers and Schmidts.

Rumor has it that infamous actor Charlie Sheen may even return to partake in the festivities in honor of his former character and in respect to the fans which have kept the show going for 12 solid years.

Maybe there truly is a Santa after all?

Happy Holidays!

‘Tis the season

As 2014 begins to wrap itself up in a flurry of tinsel and garland, the holiday season brings us a festive opportunity to end the year with a smash.

In regards to sitcom debuts, this year has had its fair share of highs and lows.

But something about the holiday season conjures up a sense of nostalgia and when it comes to comedy holiday specials, there is no exception.

The great thing about television today is that we have the pleasure of visiting old friends when we’re feeling a little sentimental, and with this list of oldies but goodies, we can merrily toast to the new year ahead.

Happy holidays!

S’wonderful S’marvelous

In the comedic world, we are graced with funny faces who are clear tributes towards their craft.

But what happens when these leaders begin to branch their way out of their respective worlds? Is the key to sitcom success the ability to maneuver your way through different aspects of society, while addressing all present issues in a non-evasive manner? As comedy juggernaut Mindy Kaling has said, “The key to creating something successful, especially in regards to a show, is to stay relevant.”

Mindy Kaling has ventured into a multi spectra of worlds through various social media platforms and simply a keen interest in everything that could be laughed at. This autumn, she was honored at the 2014 Glamour Woman of the Year Awards, presented by satirical sachem Stephen Colbert.

Kaling’s recognition of accolades in the fashion world is credited to her work ethic in the television world just as Stephen Colbert has bridged the gap between satirical comedy and addressing hard-hitting news. Take a look and see for yourself as to why it is vital for successful sitcoms to have well-rounded faces like Mindy and Stephen representing them.

Whose Wikipedia is it anyway?

Many things come to mind when thinking of Wikipedia.

Some consider it a holy grail of all knowing knowledge while others define it as the stomping grounds of non-educated internet aficionados. While the credibility for many pages may be questionable, it is fair to say that Wikipedia is a relevant source of information gather which plays a integral part of everyday life. There is nothing that Wiki doesn’t cover. Seriously, it’s weird. Each and every facet of life is categorized then sub-categorized into one big helping of generalized information: including sitcoms.

The lineage of comedy is humungo in the Wiki world, settling its roots with the history of theatrical comedy then branching off to more modern practices including stand-up, roasts, film, and especially situational comedic television.

Want to know how sitcoms got their start in North America? There’s a page for that. How about a list of every episode of “Parks and Rec”? There’s a page for that too. Or maybe you were just extremely curious about the name of Nick Offerman’s childhood pet iguana? You can find it all.

But how reliable is this information? Conceptionally, Wiki is an innovative platform in which we the users have the opportunity to make available exactly what it is that we wish to learn more about. The freedom lies beneath our fingertips to type in a subject and create a page dedicated to it. But despite the lures and expansive repertoire of Wiki, it just doesn’t make the cut when it comes to quality control.

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After spending a few days editing basic branch pages of sitcoms, I’ve learned a few things about what it takes to be a successful Wiki page. It can be tough. Citations are constantly evolving due to pages being taken down. Credibility of sources can be hard to deem credible due to large chunk of information being sourced from popular bloggers of that topic. For Wikipedia, consistency is key. An evident pattern in the problems of the site is that smaller branch pages are more detailed and clearly sourced than larger ones, for example, the Modern Family Wiki page is much more carefully curated than the root Wiki page for sitcoms. Some pages have more supervision than others, making it harder to edit but also ensuring the quality of the content which is present.

All in all, Wikipedia has major pros and major cons. It is a cool platform to use (if utilized properly) and despite it not being the best source for credible information, it is one which gets the basics of my job done at the end of the day.

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Who runs the world? Feminists.

Throughout the years, women on television sitcoms have been depicted stereotypically in their gender roles. Women were associated with a specific presence in front of an audience, one which left the role of comedian to their male counterparts. However, there has been a surge in modern television shows that exemplify feminism. As defined by Merriam Webster, feminism is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. The classic show “Laverne and Shirley”, for example, is about two young independent woman living together on their own  while working at a Milwaukee brewery. An article, by Nara Rutten, mentions “three types of gender roles for women: the traditional woman, the liberated woman, and the modern woman.” The leads of “Laverne and Shirley”, are representative of a liberated womanhood, which is defined as women who are “freed from or opposed to traditional, social, and sexual attitudes or ways of behaving.” As we’ve grown more accustomed towards female lead presences on our favorite shows, it is our jobs as the viewers to understand the fundamentals behind the revolutionizing of women leading TV, in the most unconventional roles.

We are currently in the third-wave feminism and as society embraces female empowerment and equality in fair representation, we see various media platforms embracing the message as well. This as a result began creating communities of multiple individual acknowledging a cultural shift in our society. Becoming more aware of feminism and its purpose, we are able to conduct feminist TV analysis in order to consider how many television sitcoms portray female equality and embrace feminism.The roles of women on television have drastically changed over time; from “Leave it to Beaver’s”, June Cleaver’s stay-at-home housewife role to “The Cosby Show’s”, Clair Huxtable’s career-orientated role. In Gabrielle Moss’s article,  Sitcoms are the Golden Land of Feminist TV Characters, she exclaims, “Sitcoms are broadening their ideas of what kind of woman a feminist can be, and I think we have more feminists as sitcom protagonists than we ever have before.”

rosie the riveter via flickr creative commons

(rosie the riveter via flickr creative commons)

What exactly does feminism imply? Whether or not the the foundation of its principles lie within fair representation and equality in opportunity, feminism is highlighting a new aspect to consider when it comes to roles in television; particularly situational comedies. While the rise of female lead characters are at an all time high, sitcoms are introducing a medium of power which women are not typically associated with: comedy. With shows such as 30 Rock, New Girl, and The Mindy Project, women are not only the ones in control, but they are the ones who dictate the last laugh. The transitioning into “female-friendly” TV is coming of age only because of the female pioneers who preceded. In an interview with  Roseanne Barr and Mindy Kaling, it is Kaling who credits Burr for making it easier for powerhouses like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to break into the men’s world of creating comedy. Successful comedic women understand that focusing on the fight for feminism is not big enough to get them as far as they want to go. Essentially a concept of “fake it ‘till you make it,” true success is achieved when you believe that you are the best person for your job in the room. To get over gender, one must look past gender. Roseanne Burr for example, of the classic show “Roseanne” credits her success towards her mission of NOT directly addressing the concept of feminism. Her idea was to create the most accurate depiction of a working class woman and mother as she could, and she very well knew that the only way she could achieve the perfect culmination of her ideas was to produce and star in it it herself.

The idea of feminism and comedy is one which is both intertwined and transcendental. A prime example of transcendentalism in comedy is Clair Huxtable of “The Cosby Show” and the “Huxtable Effect.” Her characterization was one which inspired the likes of many current female sitcom leads to stop whining on their shows about girl power and how women should be treated by their men. Instead, the approach which was adopted was one of more directness: portraying roles of sharp wit which lead to power. Comedy on television is brasher now, leaving nothing unscathed as both male and female leads are truly submerging themselves within their crafts to be the funniest person in the room. Feminism is an issue which is unfortunately still an issue. It is an ideal and concept which should be realized to the fullest without prejudice. But the best way to attain power isn’t to beg an audience for it. As something great comedic women such as Roseanne, Tina, Amy, and Mindy understand: the way to keep feminism alive and relentless is to show no recollection of women being treated unfairly and to carry on slaying in men’s territory.

roseanne/anarchy poster via flickr creative commons

(roseanne/anarchy poster via flickr creative commons)

~This blog has been a joint effort, brought to you by bloggers tahesincerely and jasselyngtz. If you like what you read, leave comments and check out the blogs for more material!

To raunch or not to raunch?

Why do we watch sitcoms? To make fun of others? To make fun of ourselves?

We are all, in the very fundamentals, in it for a good time. But does a good time require inappropriate jokes? (Some may say hell yes.)

Follow this link to ponder if being raunchy is the key to a good sitcom, and consider how far you’d go yourself in order to express your opinions without the fear of becoming offensive!

When the laugh tracks are falling flat…

When it comes to filming sitcoms, there is no greater debate among producers as to which visual approach is key to comedic gold: single-cam or multi-cam?

Essentially, there is a methodology towards filming sitcoms. Single camera sitcoms are filmed (as the name indicates) using only one central camera. This allows directors to shoot outside of studio sets, utilizing their locations, and maximizing a realistic approach towards filming scenes. This has been the most popular form of filming for the past 10 years, due to a much more responsive young adult audience base. Single camera sitcoms are also famous for NOT using laugh tracks. Think shows like “The Office,” “30 Rock,” “Modern Family,” “Parks and Recreation,” and “The Mindy Project.” The idea of single-cam sitcoms is generally summed up like this: single-cam = critically beloved, but barely watched.

Multiple camera sitcoms, reversely, are filmed with the use of many cameras (usually 3-4). This method prohibits off-set shooting, thus creating the quintessential stigma of “old-school” sitcoms. They are shot in one large studio set, the camera flipping from character to character, in front of a live studio audience. This aids in creating mass followers who grow to love familiar sets. Multiple camera sitcoms are also the birthplace of the infamous laugh track. Think shows like “The Big Bang Theory,” “Saturday Night Live,” “Seinfeld,” “Friends,” and “How I Met Your Mother.” The idea of multi-cam sitcoms is generally summed up like this: multi-cam = critically dismissed, but widely watched.

John Mulaney is the latest undertaker in striving to make the out-of-date, normcore of multi-cam taping, into something revived and repurposed like single-cam filming. Is how a sitcom is filmed, truly the indicator of its success? Let’s dig a little deeper…

Mulaney, multi-cam, being shot with a live studio audience (ray rickshaw/FOX)

Mulaney, multi-cam, being shot with a live studio audience (ray rickshaw/FOX)

In his self-titled new show on FOX, John Mulaney is mirroring a platform set by an old-school classic; “Seinfeld,” through its use of live studio audiences and multi-cam taping. Popularity of this approach has massively dwindled from the early 90’s due to the appeal of single-cam realism on most channels EXCEPT for one big anomaly; CBS. The network has been the leader in cranking out explosive mass hits, filmed the old-fashioned way, such as “The Big Bang Theory” and “Two and a Half Men.” Creators of new sitcoms are feeding off of successful predecessors and dipping their toes in single studio sets and laugh track induced sketches, hoping to recreate the glory of sitcoms past. So how come most multi-cam sitcoms are loved by the masses but critically shredded? While some of the most beloved sitcoms were brought to us through multi-cam studios, queuing a laugh track won’t make a dry joke any funnier. The basis of a sitcom, bottom line, is comedy. There is a vapidness that comes with modern sitcoms, an animosity in not establishing a purpose for the show or its characters. A common misconception of multi-cam shooting is that they are not “specific enough.” While plot lines aren’t required to tell a definite story or achieve a deliberate outcome like in film, the point of multi-cam shooting is to make a sitcom feel accessible to viewers invested in all levels of commitment while staying authentic to the characters. It’s all about the essences cultivated here. The need to bring back the glorification associated with sitcoms past won’t be attained by adding more cameras, but by writing and delivering with more depth.

What’s the deal with single cam sitcoms then? If they are garnering more modern generational viewership, and adopting the better liked “movie style” method of filming, why is everyone so desperate to move backwards and film sitcoms using multi-cams again? And why is it that despite being critically worshipped, their audience is very select and few? Single-cam sitcoms are true to their craft. By utilizing the ability to shoot in multiple locations, the story lines are generally more interesting to watch. The abandoning of the infamous laugh track provides well-written comedic material to shine through instead of being masked by forced reactions. Single-cam shows like “Modern Family” and “The Office” are breakthroughs for the quality of their development and the mastery of their characterization. Why is there a need to go back to old methods when smart, quippy casts and quotes are right under our noses? Perhaps it’s the hype and endorsements of multi-cam shows by their deep-pocketed networks which distract audiences from from focusing on the quality of the content. Sitcoms have only one purpose, to make their audience laugh. Why should we give a show our undivided attention and eternal devotion if it doesn’t do the same in regards to building a community? An audience cannot connect to a character that has yet to connect with their self. John Mulaney is a talented stand-up comedian, but falls flat of playing himself as a role. As the star of the show, he needs to cultivate an aesthetic, that is signatory to himself and who he wishes his character to be. Perhaps the best way for this to be achieved is through single-cam filming.

You can try to laugh your way out of a mistake, but you can’t fake funny.

How soon is the curtain call for Mulaney? (creative commons for fox network)

How soon is the curtain call for Mulaney? (creative commons for fox network)

The clock is ticking (or is it?)

First impressions are an idea which we take very seriously, even in the comedy business.

The pilot episode of a new sitcom becomes a proverbial torch which can either embody a beacon of light for a successful season, or serve as a burning reminder of the long, disappointing weeks ahead.

Timing, as they say, is everything…or is it?

As the fall television season kicks into gear, there are sitcoms which are already on our radar, for reasons both good and bad. Former SNL writer John Mulaney’s fictionalized self titled show has the promise of an established stand-up comedian while ABC’s Selfie attempts to reinvent the modern-day Pygmalion, again. Should we base our opinions of these shows simply by what we watch on the pilot episode? Or should we take the time and patiently wait while weak plotlines and lackluster characters cultivate into their own? After all, not all shows can hit it out of the ballpark on the first swing. It takes practice. Adjustment. Refinement. Who knows, maybe your new favorite sitcom will start off the underdog in the first season.

Take a gander here to scope out the not-so-promising fall 2014 premieres before you set your DVR :

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/maureen-ryan/fall-tv-comedies_b_3954024.html

And peek in here for some perspective on why your least favorite new show, may be worth the wait :

http://grantland.com/features/fall-tv-preview-new-comedies/

(This is the part where you’re supposed to laugh)

Creating a sitcom is the equivalent of capturing “lightning in a bottle.”

30 Rock Loves Lucy

30 Rock Loves Lucy

It is a very alluring and somewhat concerning endeavor, which requires just the right amount of magic and madness to pursue. It requires witty writers, sharp actors, and a whole production team to pull off a good laugh. And while many ideas are cranked out every fall season in its attempts to captivate an audience, very few make it out in the end for a renewal.

So what’s the deal with sitcoms on air today? And why is it that the golden days of comedic television shows are seemingly past it’s prime and can only be relived through our Netflix accounts?

Follow the link and find out why it is so dang hard to find the magic :

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/cotown/la-fi-ct-tv-comedies-20140922-story.html#page=1

(image: jack.boudreau via flickr creative commons)