Why Fox’s ‘Dads’ is a Relic of Old Television That Needs to Die

By October 25, 2013
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Dads - Promo

Despite a nearly unanimous wave of critical disdain for Seth MacFarlane’s new Fox series “Dads,” somehow the “comedy” starring Seth Green, Giovanni Ribisi, Peter Reigart, and Martin Mull is on the cusp of getting a full season order, according to TV Line, and that has just been confirmed with a press release from Fox.

The show might have premiered to 5.6 million total viewers, but it has since lost 40 percent of that audience with the most recent episode scoring 3.6 million total viewers. We’re not sure how this consistently bashed comedy series is surviving, but it stands as a testament – along with some other equally disappointing and old-fashioned multi-camera sitcoms – to a relic of an age of television long past, and it needs to die.

For decades, series have had laughtracks from live studio audiences as part of the ambiance and style, but with that element comes a certain style of writing, directing, and acting. It’s over-the-top, old-fashioned, and not representative of modern comedy, especially when shows like “Parks & Recreation,” “Modern Family,” “Louie,” “30 Rock” and more are the shows more regularly nominated for Emmys.

Now some loyal fans of a show like “The Big Bang Theory” might have something to say about that. But that series is one of the problems. This is merely an opinion, but I think “The Big Bang Theory” is a sorely overrated show that finds an audience with people who think they’re geeky because they’ve seen a few comic book movies, know some comic book characters, or dated a nerdy guy or girl once. It panders to a niche audience, while also seemingly making geek culture more accessible while not really giving it any respect.

The Big Bang Theory

But the worst part of “The Big Bang Theory” comes from the staples of old school multi-camera sitcoms. The forced, contrived dialogue written to make space for the live audience laughter, the artificial personalities of the characters, and the animated performances are just too much.”Dads” fits squarely in this kind of programming along with equally terrible freshman series like “The Millers” (poor Will Arnett can’t catch a break) and “Sean Saves the World” (which despite the recent scheduling change that put “Parks & Recreation” on hiatus, didn’t get any better ratings).

This format has also ruined shows that might otherwise have turned out to be much better without the crutch or gimmick of old multi-camera sitcoms. For example, the writing on the new CBS series “Mom” with Anna Faris and Allison Janney isn’t terrible. But the style of the show ruins any quality that might come from it because of the forced, exaggerated delivery and elbow nudging of the humor. It’s infuriating. And CBS seems to be the source of most of this old-fashioned nonsense with shows like “Two and a Half Men” still surviving.

It’s not clear if these kind of shows will always be part of TV, mostly because that’s how shows started, but it’s time for studios and networks to wake up and join the modern age. Shows don’t need to tell their audience when to laugh. If a show is funny, then the audience will laugh themselves without cue. And if a show like “Dads” is getting renewed, this world truly is headed for a dark end. Oh well. At least “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” got picked up for a full season.

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Ethan Anderton
Some of his favorite films include Ghostbusters, The Empire Strikes Back and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, while his favorite TV series include LOST, Mad Men, 30 Rock, Parks & Recreation, Arrested Development and Saturday Night Live.