Canned Laughter -- Or Even More Canned TV Emotions?

So what is it about canned laugh tracks on TV comedies that still drive me crazy?

For many of those teen/tween shows on the likes of The Disney Channel and TeenNick you can hear this stuff as a part of the content of the show. No problem here. Viewers still come to those networks in droves -- including my daughter.

And so for TV advertisers, what does this signal, at best? Family-friendly —  though probably not compelling — entertainment.

Some critics seem to think Disney Channel and TeenNick, in particular, are “poisoning your daughters.” Should I care? Should I worry young minds are getting easily digestible entertainment full of ready-made reactions?

Let’s be clear: Adult-skewing TV comedies also have laugh tracks. But increasingly, shows like “Modern Family,” “30 Rock” “and “Parks & Recreation” have done without. Laugh tracks in recent years can be viewed as  “unsophisticated.”



Many of Chuck Lorre’s comedies on CBS (like “The Big Bang Theory”) may not have laugh tracks. But they’ll be produced with some “redo” takes —  to get the right, perhaps “honest” reaction from those real audiences.

New-type single-camera comedies --“The Office” or “Modern Family” -- look to  break down more of the “fourth wall” stuff, having characters speak directly into the camera to explain themselves.

Maybe more of this is coming. If you are a TV producer looking for more innovation -- perhaps akin to a comment section at the end of an airing of a digital episode on a website -- you’ll look to other possible “canned” reactions.

What about other missing human emotions/voice affirmations? When watching a Hallmark movie, we could hear some sobs; when viewing “Legends” on TNT, perhaps audible gasps are necessary.

Let’s keep our young viewers at least guessing on how they should respond to TV shows -- at least until the next teen-oriented TV network comes around.

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