If you haven’t seen the sitcom parody “Too Many Cooks”, watch it now. Be warned, it is eleven minutes long.
One of the observations that I had from this video (which I personally found to be funny), was a reminder of how less relevant the 30 minute TV comedy has been in the past decade. The last super mega comedy to air on TV was “Friends”, ending in 2004, ten years before “Too Many Cooks” aired.
In the decade since, TV comedy has become segmented. The biggest “hits” have mainly been on CBS, like “Two and a Half Men”, “The Big Bang Theory” and the recently ended “How I Met Your Mother”. CBS has a business model different from their broadcast TV competition, as their goal is to get the largest audience altogether, and not just winning a specific age demographic.
There were also shows like “The Office”, “30 Rock” and “My Name is Earl” on NBC, one camera comedies that were critically acclaimed, yet did not have much of a big office. Fox’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” fits that mold (it’s run by a bunch of people that worked on “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation”), where the show was saved by its surprise 2014 Golden Globe wins. ABC, through the success of “Modern Family”, has been lucky to have a comedy hit, even though it’s far from the network’s heyday of “Home Improvement” and the TGIF lineup on Friday nights.
A hit sitcom is the holy grail for the studios and production companies that make them, particularly for the rerun rights. A show that can air 5 nights a week in syndication is money. A hit show is even more valuable. The cast of “Seinfeld” never have to work again, because the show’s still popular in syndication 16 years after the final episode aired. I personally believe that Seinfeld’s success actually hurt the development of sitcoms for years, due to how it was so different from the norm at the time, and changed viewer interests.
So, back to my question of the state of sitcoms in the light of “Too Many Cooks”. There will probably never be another comedy (or scripted TV show) that captures the entire nation/world at once. With so many entertainment options, including cable TV and the endless video online, there will still be hits, but there just may be Too Many Comedies to watch them all.