Did I ever tell you that one of my dreams is to write for a television sitcom? Some of you might recall that Sean Hayes, aka Jack on Will & Grace, briefly hosted a reality series called Situation: Comedy on Bravo in which aspiring screenwriters competed to pitch and develop their ideas for new sitcoms. C. and I seriously worked on a script (this was pre-kids when we had free time) but alas, the show was canceled before we could submit our pilot.
Perhaps it’s just as well, since I recently read Jennifer Weiner’s new novel, The Next Best Thing. Weiner, a successful chick lit author, was also the co-creator and executive producer of the ABC Family show State of Georgia, starring Raven-Symone (Cosby shout-out!). In her surely-based-on-experience novel, Weiner describes the laborious, frustrating, and often depraved process of making a sitcom. It sort of scared me off the whole idea for good. It’s much more fun to sit on your couch in sweatpants and simply watch TV.
Unless, of course, you’re watching the stomach-churning dreck that accounts for about 95% of TV programming these days. I swear, if I hear one more person mention Honey Boo Boo I will hurl myself off the top of a Walmart.
I know taste in TV shows, particularly comedy, is subjective. Far be it from me to judge anyone for their Real Housewives habit. But I feel it’s my duty as an educated sitcom watcher and would-be writer to share with you my picks for the Best Sitcoms on TV.
Up All Night (NBC) – How could I NOT watch a show about a 30-something couple adjusting to life with a baby? Especially since it stars some of my all-time favorite funny people: Maya Rudolph, Christina Applegate, and Will Arnett. (BTW: How sad is it that he and Amy Poehler split up?!).
C. and I often watch the show together and laugh out loud at how spot-on and unexpected the humor is. Like when the husband, a stay-at-home dad, whips up a risotto from a recipe on Gwyneth Paltrow’s blog. Or how the couple desperately tries to hang onto any shred of coolness even though they’re aging, overtired parents now. Bonus: guest stars have included Jason Lee and Blythe Danner.
Modern Family (ABC) – Who knew I had this in common with Mitt Romney, who claims this is his favorite show? The Phil-Claire dynamic is another TV marriage that’s scarily reminiscent of my own, but the real draw is Manny — a debonair, sophisticated 12yo who drinks milk out of a brandy snifter and butts heads with his gruff stepfather played by Al Bundy. I mean Ed O’Neill. Also, the episode where toddler Lily drops the F-bomb is priceless.
Suburgatory (ABC) – I like this show not just because it costars Jeremy Sisto, aka Elton from my all-time favorite movie “Clueless.” (But the episodes guest-starring Alicia Silverstone as his pregnant vegan girlfriend? Brilliant.) I like that the characters in this fish-out-of-water sitcom are so over-the-top ridiculous but in a strangely appealing way. Cheryl Hines as the bedazzled, sweet but misguided Dallas Royce is what Real Housewives WISH they could be like. And her daughter Dalia, a deadpan, overly mascaraed Mean Girl, has her own collection of ridiculously hilarious catchphrases.
Guys With Kids (NBC) – Produced by Jimmy Fallon, this show about 3 couples raising kids is funny in a believable, gender-balanced, PG-rated way, which is a refreshing change from the gross, stereotype-spewing Neanderthal dads on other shows that won’t be named. Also? Tempestt Bledsoe, aka Vanessa Huxtable (Cosby shout-out #2!), costars as a frazzled working mom of 2 sets of twins.
Hot in Cleveland (TV Land) – I know, I lost you male readers, didn’t I? My husband complains that this is the new Golden Girls, but how is that a bad thing?! The all-star, all-female, all-over-40 cast stars Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick and, of course, the illustrious and entertaining nonagenarian (!) Betty White. And what do you know? It’s produced by Sean Hayes. We’ve come full circle.
So tell me, what do you set your DVR for these days?
BONUS PICK O’ THE WEEK: It’s early days, but so far Mindy Kaling’s The Mindy Project (Fox) is off to a good start. I laughed. I like the musical montages. I may get sick of her dating disasters since it has little to nothing to do with my life. We’ll see.