You Call That Art? It's A Sitcom!

Looking for that tender, learn-a-lesson-moment from TV? Don't go to Chevy Chase for recommendations -- especially about one of the most durable of TV forms, the sitcom.

Sitcoms, says NBC's "Community" actor, are the lowest form of TV. (He didn't say what the highest form is.) I say, “Why stop there. How about calling sitcoms the lowest form of entertainment, period?”

Here's why I say that: Many confuse entertainment with education. Mediocre entertainment might make you laugh, cry, and -- in a bit of collateral damage -- think. Trying to learn some real life-changing lessons from an episode of NBC's "Community," CBS' "Two and a Half Men," or ABC's "Modern Family" is hard. Instead, go watch a documentary on Current TV about the recycling of computer equipment in Asian nations.

Chase has been outspoken about the good, bad, and ugly for his involvement in the still-low-rated NBC comedy "Community" --  though he believes his cast is pretty talented, all in all.



Commerce is another matter. CBS has been a proponent of that old style three-camera, in-studio format of the sitcom. From a business point of view, you can't say the network was wrong in producing a traditional sitcom like "2 Broke Girls." But will it win a Peabody award? Not anytime soon.

NBC has been relying on perhaps a slightly more evolved comedy effort, those one-camera affairs, with no audience laugh track -- a seemingly more authentic form of entertainment. NBC is the network that brought you "The Office,' "30 Rock" and, yes, "Community."  (Maybe these comedies are the next to lowest forms of entertainment.)

Some TV critics think Chase is biting the hand that feeds him. No way! He’s just giving a little marketing spin to an otherwise low-moving TV business news cycle – and, as collateral damage, hurting a few feelings in Hollywood. ("That's my work he's criticizing!”)

"Seinfeld" was one of the few sitcoms, that actually knew its place in the TV world.

It did not offer up those end-of-show "teachable" moments. You know, those serious shifts at the end of the episode when you find out a sitcom character is truly "sorry" for some bad dancing-on-the-bar behavior (add in a "quiet" beat in the script here), or a character admits really loves his/her crazy parents, or writes a check for an out-of-nowhere philanthropic deed.

If you don't understand the "art" factor of sitcoms, you could rely on what "Seinfeld"'s character George Constanza's response was after being questioned by Jerry Seinfeld on how he could attempt to write a TV show, when he had no experience doing so: "What writing? It's a sitcom."

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