The Will & Grace (NBC) and Roseanne (ABC) Revivals
Both of these sitcom resurrections (from opposite cultural perspective positions) work because they embrace sarcasm and lean into their own farcical natures. Instead of playing it safe, they double-down on their stereotypes and remind us it’s okay to laugh at both sides of an issue…if it helps to get to the heart of the matter at hand. They also both revel in their own classic sitcom conventions, both employing raucous laugh-tracks and theatrical staging (both, we are reminded warmly, are filmed before a “live studio audience”) eschewing the “wink, wink” tired nonsense of the faux-documentary sitcoms that have run their course in more recent decades. Continue reading →
We thought we were watching TV, but the TV was watching Film.
“I hope you’re watching the clothes, Elaine – because I can’t take my eyes off the passion.” – J. Peterman on The English Patient
And no show in the history of the television medium has been more passionate about film than Seinfeld – yet another reason the sitcom has weathered the test of time and is still funny to this day. Tied to its central conceit of being a show based on observational humor surrounding the minutia of ordinary lives, Seinfeld‘s keen observations on how film defines a culture, has the ability to rescue us from our own suffocating mediocrity, and how one’s taste in film can shape their character is one of the big reasons I still watch in endless re-loop episode after episode after episode. And I dare you to name another defunct show that is still quoted and discussed on a near daily basis in offices across the country. It’s because like the greatest of films (or the worst deserving of ridicule), through Seinfeld, we learn about ourselves – and more importantly – how to laugh at ourselves.
Seinfeld‘s greatest running gag was its references to fake movies – the most famous of which was probably Rochelle, Rochelle – an art-film about “a young woman’s strange erotic journey from Milan to Minsk.” It was first featured in one of my favorite episodes of all-time, the charming almost now period-piece-like, “The Movie” where the gang haplessly tries to meet up at the cinema for a showing of CheckMate (a high-class thriller of political intrigue we are to assume). Continue reading →