With the broadcast upfronts (where the networks announce their fall schedules) less than two weeks away, speculation has already begun about which shows will be renewed and which will be dropped. Don’t be surprised if the struggling new CBS sitcom Friends with Better Lives is nowhere to be seen on the fall schedule. But neither should you be surprised if CBS replaces it with something equally insipid.
Viewers at home are growing weary of the endless stream of nearly identical sitcoms, like FWBL, that go for cheap innuendo and endless mindless sex jokes without ever taking the time or effort to develop the characters and let viewers laugh along at their foibles and follies.
One recent episodes of FWBL centered on Kate accidentally sleeping with a male prostitute. Her friend Andi asks, “So your vagina swerved and crashed into his penis?” Her other friend Jules asks her, “Why did you pay him?” Kate replies, “I don’t shoplift dong.”
And people actually get paid to write this stuff.
Later, Randy the male prostitute shows up at Bobby’s for what Bobby thinks is handy man work and Randy thinks is sex. Bobby says they’ve got to get started and get done before his wife gets home.
Randy: “If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that…”
Bobby: “Well, just to warn you, it’s a pretty big hole (in his ceiling).”
Randy: “I’m sure I’ve seen bigger.”
Bobby: “I’ve got to tell you, I’ve had a hard time getting a guy up there.”
Randy: “I’m your man.”
Bobby: “You want to follow me to the bedroom?”
Randy: “Where ever you want to rodeo, boss.”
Bobby and Randy are in the bedroom. Right now, Bobby has the ceiling hole patched over with tarp and tape above the bed.
Bobby: “Do you think it’ll be dry up there before my wife gets home?”
Randy: “Depends on when we finish.”
Bobby: “She’s a bit of a neat freak, so try not to get any on the bed.”
Randy: “Challenge accepted.
Will walks into the room. “Have you guys started yet?”
Bobby: “Randy, meet my partner, Will.”
Will: “And roommate.”
Randy: “And your wife’s ok with this?”
Bobby: “She wasn’t at first but she’s coming around.”
Will: “Do you mind if I watch? I want to learn from an expert so next time I can help Bobby myself.”
Randy: “If Bobby’s cool with it.”
Bobby: “As long as you promise not to jump around and squeal like last time.”
Will: “Last time you took me by surprise, this time I’m ready for it.”
Bobby: “So where are your tools?”
Randy: “I only need one.”
Bobby: “Let’s see it!”
This scene could have taken place on “2 Broke Girls,” “Two and a Half Men,” or any number of current sitcoms and would not have seemed out of place because the jokes on so many current sitcoms are not character driven, they’re shock driven.
Although Indie Wire’s Joel Keller is more charitable about “FWBL”’s unrealized potential than I would be, he too recognizes that so many modern sitcoms’ reliance on gags is what ultimately makes them unwatchable:
So I might as well not mince words: “Friends With Better Lives”, currently airing on CBS on Monday at 8:30 PM Eastern, is a bad sitcom. For the time being, at least. And what stinks is that it’s squandering what potential it might have to be the next great hangout sitcom, and the Eye Net may not give it time to get there… Firstly, it seems like in bad sitcoms, the writers don’t trust that their characters’ personalities can generate humor, so they load them down with gags. One of the plots from last Monday’s episode of “FWBL” was when the just-divorced, no-game doctor Will (James Van Der Beek) meets a wild woman in a bar and doesn’t know how to respond when she sends him a text of her privates.
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