Comedy Question: Can FOX Launch A Successful Sitcom That’s Not Animated?
Late last night FOX went through their ranks and axed five TV shows from its programming lineup. Of those five shows, two of them were promising new comedies in Breaking In and Traffic Light. And on the heels of the networks inability to make shows like Running Wilde a success this season, we’re now looking at 3 out of the 4 new live action sitcoms the channel launched this year as failures. The final, still standing, live action sitcom being Raising Hope. A show that’s doing well but by no means setting the world on fire, greatly benefiting from an American Idol lead-in, and not what one would classify as a “buzzy sitcom” like How I Met Your Mother, Community, or Parks & Recreation.
Yes, it’s true that Fox was able to renew it’s new animated series Bob’s Burgers but this also raises the question…can FOX launch a successful comedy outside of the animated world? It has successful animated shows in Seth McFarlane blocks and The Simpsons juggernaut. But it’s been a long time since we can say the network’s had a runaway live action sitcom. Last year ABC exploded with new comedies like Modern Family, Cougar Town, and The Middle and they are looking strong this year with Happy Endings to round out their two-hour Wednesday night comedy block. CBS had the Two And A Half Men flagpole for a while now but has still been able to get other shows like How I Met Your Mother, Mike And Molly, and was even able to grow The Big Bang Theory and to move it to the already cluttered Thursday night where it’s not only survived but thrived against NBC‘s much touted Thursday night comedies.
But where’s FOX in all of this? Yes they own Sunday night with it’s animated shows, but why is the channel unable to replicate this success with live action humans? Some criticize the network for not giving new shows enough time to find an audience or build buzz unless they are runaway hits like American Idol or Glee. Others blame the Arrested Development syndrome – constant moving of schedules, preempting of slots by sports programming as a possible culprit as well.
The answer is that it’s more than likely difference circumstances for each show. Some aren’t strong, others become popular after the fact, while other still just don’t get a fair shake in this high pressure society of getting eyeballs for the advertising dollar.
I do wonder if FOX should take note from it’s sister network FX. For the last few years, FX has grown into a sitcom juggernaut with unique, edgy, and most importantly, hilarious comedy programming like It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Archer, and Louie.
This isn’t to say that I think FX comedies would work on FOX, they aren’t really broad and probably wouldn’t. But what this relationship does do is continue to make us frustrated because there is an audience for comedy and others seem to be finding it. Maybe one day FOX will find it too.