Sticking: Two Shows for the Price of One

Posted on December 27, 2012


Okay, let’s be clear about something. About ten years or so ago, so long I have trouble remembering it, FOX television switched to reality TV and lowest-common-denominator shows. We boycotted. Not that anybody noticed.

Over the years, Fox started coming back to scripted shows. At first, we came back for their dramas. Now there are two half-hour sitcoms that we enjoy.

The New Girl

Let me say that I am so over Zoey Deschanel. I crushed on her pretty heavily for a while, but now I’m more critical. Fortunately, she has some talent.


We Watched It

The New Girl is about a woman who breaks up with her boyfriend after discovering him cheating on her. Desperate for a place she can afford on a teacher’s salary, she moves in with three guys.

Hilarious hijinks ensue.


The New Girl has two issues that face every sitcom.

The first is that the characters and relationships can never truly change. Nick and Jess are never going to realize that they are perfect for each other. CeCe and Schmidt are never going to get married and have babies. Winston is never going to achieve career success and marry his girlfriend.

I emphasize that is a challenge for all sitcoms – particularly those with child actors, whose aging is obvious.

The second might just be me, but the FOX marketing team is billing at as “Friends for millennials.” That just makes me want to vomit. Be original. Be daring. Try to be awesome on your own two feet and see what happens.

FOX, however, likes to pigeonhole things, and apparently The New Girl is the new Friends.

It doesn’t change anything about the quality of the show, it just jabs me in the eye every time I watch. I can’t unremember it.

Raising Hope

Man, despite the great cast, the advertising for this show made me think I would hate it.


Then, one day, I got bored and started poking around the free stuff that Comcast had OnDemand.

Damn free stuff.

We Watched It

Jimmy gives a girl a ride. They have sex in the back of his van. Later, Jimmy and his family discover that she is a wanted serial killer. The family knocks her out and turns her over to the cops.

Turns out that she’s pregnant with Jimmy’s child, and he winds up with custody of little Hope.

His parents aren’t very bright. His girlfriend is ambitious and independent. His grandmother is crazy. Jimmy doesn’t know if he can overcome his own weaknesses and pull the family together to help raise his daughter.

If that sounds potentially tragic, you need to watch Martha Plimpton, Garret Dillahunt, and Cloris Leachman work their comedy magic.


See the sitcom problem explained under The New Girl. Jimmy’s parents can show flashes of culture and intelligence, but they can never actually change. Jimmy himself can grow and mature a little. Meanwhile, Cloris Leachman isn’t getting any younger, and Hope magically gets taller every season.

The other problem that Raising Hope faces is avoiding the characters becoming one-note clichés. In early episodes of The Simpsons (also on FOX, coincidentally), Homer Simpson is a character. In current seasons, he’s just a series of sound bites and clichés. Raising Hope must avoid that to keep viewers.

Maw Maw is already in danger of that. She’s a tool they use to lighten things up when the story gets too serious. I’d like to see her more as a character than as a gimmick.


Have you ever watched a show just for an actor that you really like? Have you ever seen a stupid show that turned out to be genuinely entertaining?

Posted in: television