WE SHOULD GIVE OLD SITCOMS MORE CREDIT
90s sitcoms. Some people love them and some people hate them. I mean sure — they aren’t grade-A comedies, but is that their raison d’être? Although they aren’t always exceptional works of television or the highest form of comedy, they have a spot in our everyday lives.
I like to think people need consistency in their lives. After a long and stressful day at work, I don’t want to watch an intense show with emotional scenes. Instead, I want to watch something relaxing and reliable that I can play in the background as I wind down. Old sitcoms have predictable jokes and unchanging characters which give viewers an element of stability in their unpredictable lives. The laugh tracks create a strangely soothing end to my drama-filled day as I snooze off to the sounds of pre-recorded audience laughter.
The characters in sitcoms are also charming. They remind us of people in our everyday lives who are just as predictable; whether it’s the one friend with constant love problems or the paranoid one who fixates on every little mess. Sitcoms mirror the interactions we have with real people on a daily basis, and it’s comforting to see ourselves on screen. It makes us feel like our lives aren’t so boring after all. In fact, our lives could be sitcoms — shows about nothing, as George Constanza would say, if we wanted them to be.
Sitcoms also give us hope. When Rachel got her promotion at Ralph Lauren, viewers imagined themselves getting a similar one in their own lives. And when Monica eventually got over Richard, viewers are reminded that they’ll also be able to find closure in their love lives. This is not to say that the trajectory of Rachel or Monica’s lives in Friends was 100 per cent realistic, but are T.V shows ever realistic? At least with sitcoms, we can feel some sense of relatability as they attempt to emulate everyday life.
Sitcoms remind us that everyday life doesn’t need to be taken so seriously. Like the seasons of T.V shows, winter turns into summer, and bad things pass while good things come around. That’s why I’ll always love Seinfeld, Friends, Frasier, and all the other old sitcoms. They’re the ultimate comfort shows and I’ll always appreciate a little bit of comfort after a long day.