The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors (halfshellvenus) wrote,
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors

December Blogging Meme: TV Sitcoms vs. Primetime Dramas

Today's blogging topic, courtesy of bleodswean, is "Half hour situational comedy versus hour primetime drama."

My preferences lean heavily toward drama. When I was a kid, I probably liked sitcoms more. I used to watch Three's Company (because I had an inexplicable crush on John Ritter), and loved The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Bob Newhart (the '70s version), M*A*S*H*, and WKRP In Cincinnati. I liked Soap, partly because of a crush on Billy Crystal and that he played a gay character (slash!), but to be honest, the satire and offbeat sense of humor were also right up the alley where the adult me would eventually wind up parking my FBI Watchvan.

I don't like sitcoms much nowadays. I tend to like irony, absurdity, and satire—all at once!—which you can find in The Simpsons and Raising Hope but which typically is in shows that do less well with audiences: Max Headroom, Arrested Development, Community, Better Off Ted, Futurama, Aliens In American, and (in later seasons) My Name Is Earl. My comedic tastes are often the commercial kiss of death, though The Colbert Report is still going strong (but the fact that my whole family finds it funnier than The Daily Show probably tells you something).

I also seem to have scheduling trouble with half-hour shows, unless they start on the hour OR come after something I already watch. It's as if I can't latch onto the memory of when they air. :(

TV dramas, though... they're my mainstay. I'm not usually drawn to nighttime soaps or melodramas (as I think of them), so there are tons of shows that don't appeal to me. But good writing and good characters (and often, snark) really pull me in. For years, Chicago Hope and E.R. were favorites, and then House, M.D.. I liked all of the Law & Order shows (especially SVU, before Eliot left). Six Feet Under, Oz, The Walking Dead, Dexter, and Homeland are some favorites from cable, and 24 held me captive for a number of seasons. I was obviously pretty passionate about Prison Break and Supernatural for many years, and have really started liking Criminal Minds in reruns (though I still hate S1, which is why I originally gave up on the show). I miss Fringe and its characters a great deal.

I am not a huge fan of the big overarching storyline many hour-long shows have, though. Too often, those get overblown and ridiculous, until it takes six seasons for Patrick Jane to find Red John, and by then the conspiracies of conspiracies have just become stupid. I think the long arc ruined Supernatural for me, with the increasing one-upsmanship over the angst of prior seasons (and trotting out the Apocalypse, which I'm sick to death of). My favorite X-Files episodes were typically the comedic ones that had very little to do with the mytharc, and while a quiet, large story progression is fine with me, I usually like shows on an individual-episode basis. An amazing, tightly written and well-acted episode is like a little present I can re-open again and again. It's one of the reasons House is still so good on rewatching, but E.R. less so. With E.R., you were always in the middle of a longer arc, and too much of the story was driven by the seasonal plotline rather than the episode plotline. I think that's probably a matter of personal preference, but "small and solid" usually works better for me.

If it seems like I've skipped over many of my favorite shows, it's because they're not really primetime dramas. I've loved a lot of mixed-genre shows that are lighter or just too bizarre to fall into that pure "drama" category. Some of them (Burn Notice, White Collar, and Justified) have been pretty popular, while many others (Reaper, Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies, Wonderfalls, and American Gothic) were just "too weird' for mainstream audiences.

Well, this got long. Or was that the point?

To sum up: of the comedies I like, very few are sitcoms, and dramas appeal to me more consistently. But on the scorecard of My Tastes vs. Typical TV Viewers, let's just say that if the Nielsen people ever came to my house, they would leave a lump of coal in my stocking.

Thanks, bleodswean, for the great topic!

Tags: meme, tv

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