Sitcoms have a long and inconsistent history in television. Character development tends to take a back seat to a joke-a-minute format, which attempts to land as many laughs as humanly possible in their 30-minute time slot. The truly great sitcoms, however, grow as they progress, allowing its characters to take center stage with their eccentric and hilarious personalities.
Take Seinfeld or It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia for example, two of the best sitcoms ever that are chock full of colourful characters who find themselves in preposterous and gut-busting scenarios. It’s not as simple to accomplish as it seems, however, as many sitcoms skip that process and aim for cheap laughs instead, requiring no sort of commitment to the show. Chuck Lorre is at the forefront of this movement, promoting shows like Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory as good sitcoms when they are, in this writer’s opinion, pretty lackluster.
Uninspired sitcoms tend to be par for the course these days though, unfortunately. It’s a mine field full of trite jokes and cliche characters that somehow stay on air for an extended time. There are good ones out there, but it takes work and trial and error to find them. But this feature isn’t going to focus on the good ones. This is about the bad ones.
So sit back, get ready to yell at the computer screen in a fit of rage and enjoy this list of the 10 most overrated sitcoms ever. We encourage all to drop a comment below with your own selections or why you disagree with ours.
10. The Office
Look, I really enjoyed The Office back in its heyday. Its mockumentary style was clever for its time, before a number of shows adopted it, and its lead characters were funny and chock full of life. Unfortunately, the show endured a slow burn leading up to its eventual decline, running a few seasons too long. While it didn’t tarnish the experience completely, it still left a sour taste instead of focusing squarely on the memorable moments. Do I feel comfortable recommending this show to someone who hasn’t seen it? Sure. But it’s still overrated, mostly because it overstayed its welcome and couldn’t maintain its comedy level.
9. Family Guy
Family Guy, like The Office, started out very strong. The first seven or eight seasons were hysterical and rarely missed a beat, which is impressive considering its joke-a-second pace. I debated whether a cartoon should make the list, but it’s technically considered a sitcom and Family Guy is insanely popular. It’s random, it’s nonsense and it’s frankly pretty stupid, but that’s what made it funny. Perhaps it’s the style of the show, but it took a steep decline when showrunner Seth MacFarlane began making jokes run for minutes at a time, using its awkward length to burn time. The amount of time they waste is supposed to be the joke, of course, but when you start relying on this tactic it quickly loses its luster. Family Guy still has its moments, but it doesn’t appear as though it will endure the test of time.
Frasier is a decent show. It had its moments and its lead characters did a fine job in their respective roles, especially considering it’s a sitcom. Still, the show’s use of flowery language starts to wear thin as the seasons progress. I wouldn’t suggest that Frasier is a bad show, far from it in fact, but its reputation seems a tad overdone considering the type of humour it promotes. This is, of course, a subjective topic as comedy is rarely cut and dry, for lack of a better term. Again, Frasier is a decent show for what it is, but it’s hardly worthy of the top 10 status it seems to command by some.
7. How I Met Your Mother
How I Met Your Mother presented an interesting premise as viewers stuck around for years to find out who, in fact, was the mother of the central character’s children. The problem, however, is that the sitcom ran for a few years too many. Like The Office, it suffered from overextending its reach and not ending on a high note. Unlike The Office, How I Met Your Mother never quite reached those heights to begin with. It was a serviceable sitcom, for sure, but it was never ‘gut-bustingly’ funny. Barney Stinson, played by Neil Patrick Harris, was the standout character in the show and truly elevated it to another level, even though that level never made it too high.
There are episodes of Friends that I truly enjoyed. I would even suggest it’s a pretty good sitcom overall. But when people think of sitcoms, Friends almost always comes to mind. It enjoyed a rather large reputation and is still revered to this day. Go ahead, check what’s on television right now and I bet you’ll find a rerun airing. While characters like Joey and Chandler provided great chemistry on set and made the show what it is, there wasn’t enough to keep the momentum going, as the show eventually grew stale and attempted to lure viewers in with inorganic relationships.
5. According to Jim
According to Jim is the epitome of inconsistency. It had some funny moments, but it’s also littered with misfired and predictable jokes. That seems like a preposterous claim considering it ran eight seasons, but enduring it in its entirety would be a banal experience. Jim, as an average every-man father, does a good job in his role, but he can’t save the show by himself with a rather weak supporting cast who come across as an annoyance more than anything. Brother-in-law Andy has his moments and also helps raise the show’s comedy level, but even between the two of them the show fails to maintain consistent comedy.
4. Mike & Molly
We get it. The characters are fat. Hilarious. The show beats this joke until it’s a pile of finely-ground powder… of mediocrity. The jokes are simple, predictable and subsequently trite. There isn’t much about Mike & Molly that works even on a basic level, but there it is, large as hell for everyone to see. I mean look, fat jokes are to be expected here, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But when it’s the basis of your comedy, you’re in trouble. Evidently they did just fine…and that’s why Mike & Molly stands before you now on the list of most overrated sitcoms.
3. Two and a Half Men
Jeez, where to start here? Charlie Sheen completely lost his mind and came up with such memorable sayings as “winning” and “tiger blood” in the meltdown that subsequently lost him his job. Poor Jon Cryer was just trying to enjoy the success of a hit sitcom before Angus T. Jones also lost his mind and then noted sitcom star Ashton Kutcher also came on board for a ludicrous amount of dough. It rarely worked, but it was watched by many. It had some funny moments, mostly from Cryer and Sheen, but it lasted way too long and the inclusion of Kutcher was just overkill. Yet another example of a show overstaying its welcome.
2. Sex and the City
The sitcom is terrible and the movies are terrible, but Sex and the City just refuses to go away for good. It’s basically a collection of scenes promoting selfishness, materialism, narcissism, crazed sexual needs, home-wrecking and just general disrespect to the modern, educated woman. Besides the last point, all that is fine. Those are actually decent ingredients to make a solid sitcom, but Sex and the City misses the mark consistently. It’s just not funny, and the central characters are cringingly bad across the board. I realize this is complete sacrilege to the show’s fans, and that’s fine, and maybe I’m missing something here, but this still stands as one of the worst shows on television.
1. The Big Bang Theory
I’ve given The Big Bang Theory multiple chances, mostly because of its positive reception from viewers, but I just don’t think it’s funny. It’s painfully unfunny from my perspective, and its central characters are walking cliches. Rather than embrace the geeky culture it attempts to emulate, the show tends to laugh at nerds instead of with them, and that’s the biggest shame of all. It should come as no surprise that Chuck Lorre, responsible for Two and a Half Men, is the mind behind this unoriginal and repetitive sitcom. The Big Bang Theory tops this list because it continues to enjoy massive success despite its weak characters and cringe-worthy jokes. That may seem a little harsh, and perhaps it is, but it’s truly mind boggling how revered this show is by the average viewer.