This is the first in a periodic feature in which I ask the question “what the fuck, television?” in response to some trend on the small screen that I find particularly irksome. So without further ado…
What the fuck, television? Did we really need four new shows this year about six friends in their late twenties/early thirties at different points in their relationships, during which hilarity (presumably) ensues? Look. I get it. Friends was a true network mega-hit. NBC made a kagillion dollars on that franchise (and then allowed Ben Silverman to rake that money into a big pile, jump in it a few times, and then set the pile on fire… but that’s the topic of a different post) and it’s understandable that other networks would like to make a kagillion dollars too. But Friends was a lifetime ago by entertainment industry standards, and as far as I can tell people are begging for the return of a Friends-esque show as much as they’re begging for the return of flannel shirts, horrible shoes for women, and dial-up modems (which is to say, with the exception of Seattle, they’re not).
So again, what the fuck television? Why have Better With You, Perfect Couples, Traffic Light, and Happy Endings collectively been foisted upon an unsuspecting public all at once? It honestly feels like the writers of these four shows got together, put all of the potential storylines in a hat, and played rock/paper/scissors to figure out which show got which storyline. They are the same. damn. show. Ok, in fairness, one of the shows has a British sidekick and one of the shows has a black sidekick AND a gay sidekick, but other than that? Same damn show.
This isn’t to say that they are all equally horrible and unfunny. I’ve watched episodes of each show and found aspects or specific gags that I enjoyed. In the case of Perfect Couples I actually watched the whole run and thought it was a show that, given time, could develop into something better than average (but I’m assuming its going to be canceled). But as a whole, these shows weren’t particularly good and seemed to confuse “people being vaguely nasty to one another” with “funny banter.” Even debating the quality of these shows, however, is setting aside the fact that the presence of all four is wildly superfluous. It’s like a group of network executives were having a drink in a bar one night (who am I kidding, network executives don’t drink in a bar; they sip 200 yr old Scotch out of tumblers carved from unicorn horns in their floating dirigible-offices, high above us foolish viewers)(at least, I assume that’s what Les Moonves does) and they all identified “new Friends” as what the kids were into these days, and then rushed off to develop their versions… only to have them land with a thud, the realization dawning on them that no one gave a crap whatsoever.
What it boils down to, television, is this: making one version of this show was a mediocre idea at best. Making FOUR versions of it was a monumentally stupid idea. Going forward, let’s just agree that a mass remake of a particular show format is something to be avoided. Unless of course that format is space-Western, in which case you should feel free to come up with as many as possible. Ain’t no power in the ‘verse that should stop you.