Sitcom Drama

I confess. I’m a sitcom junkie.  Any day, give me a half hour of light comedy rather than the high tech intrigue of the forensic dramas. Exclude me from the escapades of sleazy politicians or crooked business tycoons scratching their way to wherever. Instead, I purposely watch situation comedies to escape for thirty minutes, have a few laughs and not have to think too hard.

And, yes, I admit there’s lots of junk to be found in sitcoms. As each new season begins, I fall prey to the trailers and give some of the new shows a try. Most get boring after one or two episodes and are quickly deleted from my DVR recorder list.

But my treasured half hour of escape was jolted back to real life recently when two of my sitcom gems, Mom and the Big Bang Theory,  made me, not cry, but feel emotional, teary, touched.  What’s going on here! Do I need to think and feel after all?

First on Mom, we have the recovery foibles of a mother/daughter druggie/alchie tag team; then on The Big Bang Theory there’s the struggles of the nerdy, genius physicists trying to fit in. I’ve been known to laugh out loud and re-watch saved episodes whenever I need some comic relief.

On Mom, Bonnie got an unexpected call from her long lost mother who had given her up to foster care at age four. On the Big Bang Theory, Sheldon had to face his obsessively denied emotional feelings since his girlfriend, Amy, dumped him.

Surprisingly, both stories backed away from the Hollywood happy ending all wrapped up in thirty minutes. Bonnie didn’t quickly forgive and welcome her abandoning mother back into her life. Instead she made friends with the kind, older woman she kept running into in the coffee shop. The lesson here is that we find what we need in the most unlikely places when we least expect it.

And Sheldon, after seeing that Amy was dating, accepted reality and began to plan the rest of his life. For the first time, Sheldon had to accept that there were things he wouldn’t be able to control or change to his liking.

Up to that episode, Bonnie had been your classic recovering narcissist, talking the talk but not walking the walk. And Sheldon had operated in his “on the spectrum” style with no regard for how he affected others. In a flash, both were suddenly fully formed, three dimensional characters and I had empathy for both that I’d never had before.

Who’d have thought that a sitcom could provide a valuable and realistic example of solving life’s problems without a totally happy ending?  Chuck Lorre is the creator and producer of both of these programs. What kind of a life has he had that he can portray this human angst with such clarity? I googled him and saw that he’d also created Dharma and Greg, another of my long ago favorites. Add to his credits Grace Under Fire, Mike and Molly and Cybil.

I’ve watched every one of those shows, with differing levels of enjoyment. I also noticed that he’d created Two and a Half Men which for me was a miss, filled with sexual innuendo and crude jokes. Let’s just say that Chuck Lorre has quite a range.

Further research revealed he began his career writing for the Roseann show. He’s twice divorced, played in a rock band,  favored LSD, changed his name and wrote the book What Doesn’t Kill Us Makes Us Bitter. 

So, I see that he’s as human and flawed as his characters. And in the creative writing mantras of “write what you know” and “show don’t tell,” Lorre is a star. It takes real courage to show your humanity and he does this to a world-wide TV audience every week. Comparatively, my hesitance to post an especially personal personal essay on my web page seems diminutive.

This added a whole new level to my TV viewing and a reminder that just because something is funny doesn’t  mean it lacks substance. Thank you Chuck Lorre, for adding such depth to life’s real and difficult glitches and doing it with such humor.



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Diana Schramer
    Nov 21, 2015 @ 14:54:07

    Kudos to another thought-provoking, spot-on post! I, too, love sitcoms, and Mom is one of my favorites. The way Chuck Lorre presents the pain and struggle of addiction and recovery with humor and realism is nothing short of genius. Of course, a lot of credit goes to the talented actors who really pull it off.



    Nov 30, 2015 @ 16:20:35

    Are you ok? No on will tell me about you. Thinking of you and hope all is well. Come home soon! Kathy



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