It can be hard to discern what makes a television sitcom popular among mainstream audiences. While certain sitcoms have an obvious setting or cast of characters that appeal to everyone, that isn’t always enough to survive the ruthless television landscape. It is the timing of when these shows are released that can be more important. The state of the world around us constantly changes and our entertainment needs change with them, in order to watch something that helps us forget about our lives. Some of these sitcoms that successfully take advange of this fact are good on a critical level but many of them are not. In fact, I would argue that many of these sitcoms are overrated.
Here are the top ten overrated sitcoms in the history of television. Please understand an overrated sitcom isn’t always a bad one. I find myself watching some of these shows on a semi-regular basis. It just means that it isn’t as good as most people think it is.
10. Family Matters
Steve Urkel is the most annoying character in the history of television. Let’s break this down. According to the Family Matters IMDB page, Urkel was originally supposed to be in one episode for the entire series but audiences love him so much that they changed the entire show so they could make him one of the main characters. That’s right, a show that was supposed to be a counterpoint to The Cosby Show quickly turned into a sad farce. How is a show where we see a creepy nerdy guy constantly hitting on the daughter of a police officer one of the most popular sitcoms in history? I’m ashamed of humanity.
9. The Simpsons
I’ll be the first one to admit that the first eight seasons or so of The Simpsons are still some of the most well-written comedies in television. Unfortunately, being on for twenty-six seasons hasn’t done it any favors. The writers have been lazily cranking out material for years because they know that their rabid fan base will watch anything. Remember the days when the show wasn’t entirely about Homer and his increasingly more idiotic routines that he goes through while Marge sadly cleans everything up? Maybe I’m just too nostalgic for the older episodes but I want the controversial show that had Bart say “Eat my shorts!” to come back. Actually, they should probably just end it.
8. Family Guy
Family Guy is one of my go to shows when I just want to watch something in the background. I like this show but it’s not the greatest. In fact, most of the characters have become caricatures of themselves. What’s sad about this is that the writers do have room to develop the characters even though the show has been on for so long. The best example of this is Meg. Meg has been the show’s punching bag since day one. It gets some cheap laughs but they could easily develop her character to make the show even funnier with a few more episodes of work. Instead they decide to just put in some throwaway jokes and move on.
Frasier may be one of the more smarter sitcoms of the ’90s but I don’t think it’s as good as it’s multiple Emmy wins may lead you to believe. The show seemed to be at an awkward crossroads where it wanted to be a more well-written, British sitcom but was forced to be stilted like every other show on American television. I feel that Frasier would be great if it were made in today’s television landscape. Perhaps it was too ahead of its time.
6. Boy Meets World
I liked this show when I was younger. In fact, I liked it a lot. So I realized how terrible life was when I tried watching it as an adult and I couldn’t enjoy it. Corey may be one of the most boring characters in television history. He’s whiny sometimes, but that’s it. Nothing else. I also forgot how preachy this show is about going to college. When will people learn that the last thing that will make kids better themselves is preaching to them about it? The actress who plays Topanga is still hot though.
I almost forgot, Disney is going to air a sequel to this show called Girl Meets World. That will be interesting I guess.
5. Two and a Half Men
Chuck Lorre may be able to create sitcoms that mainstream audiences will watch but that doesn’t mean that his shows are always good. This is especially true for Two and a Half Men. Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer were phoning it in from day one and the kid’s character gets worse as he gets older. Ashton Kutcher as a replacement for Charlie Sheen is a desperate move that should’ve killed the series but it hasn’t. Kutcher has been in the show for a while now and yet they are still making meta Charlie Sheen jokes. This is still one of the most popular shows on television and yet no one I know admits to watching it. Overrated is an understatement.
4. Full House
This is a tough one because the adventures of the Olson twins and Bob Saget were dear to all of our hearts when they were on the air. The more family friendly style of the series drew viewers to the screen but unfortunately all of these strengths are now weaknesses for the most part. The cuteness of the Olson twins gets old fast because the dialogue, characters arcs, and plot lines don’t hold up. This is one of those tough moments when you realize that sometimes what you like as a kid isn’t very good when you’re an adult.
3. Saved By The Bell
This could be my bias creeping in more than usual because I didn’t even like this show when it was on the air. Almost every episode was boring, cheesy, and Screech’s character annoyed to my very core. I don’t know if anyone else feels this way but I’m pretty sure that Zack Morris is a sociopath. He constantly lied to everyone around him for his own amusement and even sold mayonnaise sunscreen to an elderly woman so he could watch her get assaulted by seagulls. Yet, we’re told that this is just a family-friendly television show. I think that some of the writers were resentful of what they had to work with and I don’t blame them. This show sucks.
2. The Big Bang Theory
Chuck Lorre strikes again with The Big Bang Theory. At least there is no Charlie Sheen to make things more of a mess than they already are and I like the chemistry of the cast. However, something occurred to me while watching the show. If you pay attention, you find that most of the jokes aren’t laughing with the main characters. The jokes are laughing AT the main characters. This fact bothers me because a huge mainstream show is condoning and maybe even encouraging people to make fun of others who are different than them. Watch any television show by Ricky Gervais and you’ll see good comedy that can be rough to its characters but is still sympathetic for them as they go through their character arcs. The Big Bang Theory is just mean and it’s upsetting.
All of my female friends from college are going to slap me but this really is the most overrated sitcom of all time. I’m not going to sit here and say that there were no good moments in this show because there were but people seem to forget that a lot of the show was blatant filler in order to pay the expensive cast and crew. Friends deals with the problem of being a show of its time as well. While I can watch other old sitcoms in syndication, this one is just a little too ’90s for me to handle. Friends may be constantly telling me that it will be there for me. That’s fine, I just don’t want it to.