Quantcast

Scott D. Pierce: Other than 'Big Bang,' CBS comedies stink

Published May 8, 2014 4:08 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

CBS will announce its fall schedule on Wednesday, and, geez, I hope there's something funny on it. Because there's almost nothing funny on the network right now.

Not so long ago, we'd sit down and watch most of the network's comedies at my house. Some were better than others, but even the early years of "Two and a Half Men" were a lot better than most people give the show credit for.

And I am not a comedy snob. There are those who look down their noses at CBS' traditional, multicamera, filmed-before-a-studio-audience sitcoms, but I am not among them.

Funny is funny. And filmed comedies without a laugh track are not funnier because of their format. Some of them are hilarious — but that's because of the writing and the performances.

I wasn't overly enthusiastic about the prospect of the network adding "How I Met Your Dad" to the schedule, given that not only was the "How I Met Your Mother" series finale disappointing but so were the last couple of seasons. But compared with most of CBS' other sitcoms, "How I Met Your Mother" looks like a masterpiece.

CBS remains the home of the best sitcom on TV, "The Big Bang Theory." It's laugh-out-loud funny every week, and that's a rarity for any comedy.

But the network has fallen into a trap it can't seem to escape. It has given us a series of unfunny shows that confuse loud and vulgar with funny.

Seriously, it's just insulting to viewers' intelligence when characters shout unfunny lines and we're expected to laugh. It's the comedy equivalent of Ugly Americans yelling at people who don't speak English, somehow expecting that if they speak more loudly, they will be understood.

Look no further than "2 Broke Girls," a vile show filled with sex jokes and racism. This is what CBS has leading off its Monday-night lineup.

(You could argue that the show has no business being at 7 p.m. Mountain and Central Time/8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific. But that's a different column.)

Funny makes up for a lot. HBO's "Veep" can be remarkably coarse, but it's also funny.

The same cannot be said for "2 Broke Girls" or "Two and a Half Men" or "Friends With Better Lives" or "Bad Teacher."

"The Millers" is less crude, but it's sort of painfully unfunny. "Mike & Molly" isn't awful, but — despite the great cast, including Melissa McCarthy, Billy Gardell and Swoosie Kurtz — it's not really worth a half-hour of your life to sit down and watch.

I'm a slightly skeptical fan of "Mom," which debuted this past September and got off to a very strong start. It ran into creative problems midseason, but seemed to right the ship in the last few episodes of the season.

Dying is easy. Comedy is hard. It's really hard at CBS these days.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.