US comedy? Not so much to laugh at…

26 Mar 2013 @ 10.23 am
| Opinion

The New Normal – "stereotypical camp gay man and his partner". Photograph: Channel 4
The New Normal – “stereotypical camp gay man and his partner”. Photograph: Channel 4

steve-shooter-bylineYorkMix comedy blogger Steve Shooter responds to our TV reviewer’s assertion that some US sitcoms smash “British comedy out of the water”


It seems I disagree with TV reviewer Lucy Bellerby on what makes a good US sitcom. I agree that Parks and Recreation is decent, and does indeed have a great cast, although Amy Poehler and the character are too brittle and unlikeable for me to really latch onto it. I don’t deny Poehler’s comic ability, but give me Tina Fey every time.

My major issue comes when it comes to The New Normal. This show is everything wrong with TV today. It has taken a serious issue, and inserted bland stereotypes into the mix.

The lead couple, David and Bryan, are supposed to represent the 21st century gay couple, when in actuality all they are is the stereotypical overtly camp gay man and his long-suffering, not very gay at all, partner. That this show comes from Glee creator Ryan Murphy should be of no surprise to anyone, given how broad and generalised all of his characters seem to be. Even Ellen Barkin, as the demon mother, is nothing more than an easy pot-shot at Republican, conservative America.

I will hold my hands up, I only watched the first two episodes, but by the end of the first I was ready to give up. I only went back for a second episode because I wanted to give it a chance to escape from the pilot episode constraints. It didn’t. I found the show horribly offensive, and I’m not easily offended.

If we are talking funny American shows, 2 Broke Girls has just the right level of broad jokes and snark to make it edgy and clever, while retaining a few good belly laughs an episode. It does this without tipping over into smug, self-indulgence, like HBO/Sky Atlantic’s Girls. It helps that Kat Dennings (also known for her role in the Thor movie) is delightfully vicious but also sweet.

You should also check out Happy Endings, Cougar Town and Community.

While it is true that in Britain we have been lacking in really good quality comedy in recent years, there are still gems to be found: Sky’s Trollied and Moone Boy, and BBC’s Heading Out are all worth a look.