Mike Dariano


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The ruins of situational comedy

The Office and Modern Family have ruined television. At least for me. Before these shows there was an implicit agreement between the provider and consumer. The former would relay whether a show was real or scripted and the later would view as such. The specific agreements are far too vast to list but you know when they are broken. In a reality shows it's when you doubt its authenticity. Somewhat oddly this is also why some reality shows are successful (e.g. Jersey Shore). Scripted television never did this, it was like a strawberry from a children's kitchen. It looked real in shape and color but no one would take a bite.

The Office and Modern Family changed this because these shows structured themselves as documentary styles and this changes all those previous implicit viewing agreements. These are the only shows I now watch and so they in turn have become my scripted shows a new baseline. I now want characters to talk into the camera and engage the 'film crew' with non-verbal communication. Most now don't. What now exists when flipping past Glee or House is the muddy depth of characters, crew, assistants, production, suits and so on. Each on location scene once viewed on Entourage gets placed like an overhead transparent on my television and it's unwatchable.

In saying that situational comedy is ruined is probably overstepping but when two of the most dominant comedies are changing the rules, and these new strawberries taste just as sweet.

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