DID YOU READ

Ten classic TV comedies that would never get made today

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Television history is full of classic, groundbreaking comedies that have stood the test of time while also being a product of their time. It is also full of a lot of steaming clunkers that never went anywhere and rightly so. These days, with eight billion channels and eight billion remakes, it might be inconceivable that there are any concepts that worked well in the past which wouldn’t get made today. However, when you consider that most of those eight billion channels are just shows where they shove a camera in the face of somebody doing their job and force them to compete against some other guy somewhere else doing the same job, it starts to make a little more sense. So here’s a list of ten famous comedies of yore that likely wouldn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of being made in today’s cynical pop culture climate.


1. “All In the Family”

One of the greatest shows of all time, and it likely wouldn’t get made today. Why? In part because its central protagonist is an unabashed racist constantly throwing out slurs and honest bigotry. You may argue that you see that kind of thing all the time, but these days it has to be done by either making that character cartoonishly stupid and annoying like Peter Griffin or constantly defused by the ironic quips of his likable supporting cast, like Pierce Hawthorne. Carroll O’Connor’s Archie Bunker, however, remained the most popular guy on the show. There’s also the fact that Edith Bunker (Jean Stapleton), Archie’s completely steamrollable “dingbat” wife, could not remain so consistently and meekly deferent to her husband in any modern show of the politically correct era. And there’s more – see #2.


2. “Maude”

This 1972 spin-off of All In The Family shares a sensibility with it, and that sensibility is the reason neither of these shows would be made today – the notion of earnest, heartfelt political debate on a sitcom is anathema these days. Maude was Edith Bunker’s cousin, and the show centered around her strident liberal leanings as a mighty feminist, and she was a beloved hero of her show just as Archie was on his. Even though our culture today is too P.C. to allow a true-to-form Archie, it’s equally too anti-P.C. to allow an honestly strident activist like Maude without dousing her with ironic detachment as well – see Britta Perry. Perhaps television is just ahead of the curve, and we’re supposed to be living in an enlightened society that doesn’t have to butt heads about racism and sexism so much anymore – but the 24-hour news cycle would seem to indicate otherwise.


3. “Hogan’s Heroes”

No matter how successful this 1965-1971 series was, no matter how likable these war heroes are, and no matter how harmless the antagonists are made to seem, there is absolutely no way on Earth that any network would set a situation comedy in a Nazi prison camp. Certainly not in the post-Schindler’s List world. Hell, maybe not even in a post-Auto Focus world.


4. “My Mother the Car”

You see, Jerry Van Dyke played a lawyer whose dead mother’s ghost inhabited a crappy old 1928 car, and spoke only to him through the radio, while a nasty car collector named Captain Manzini always tried to take it from him. Even if you take this idea and load it up with absurd irony, as Dan Harmon did with the talking-motorcycle show Heat Vision and Jack, networks won’t touch it – especially not now, when they can just hire a bunch of post-celebrities and make them dance for fame instead. To be fair, though, My Mother The Car wasn’t even a hit back then. It’s just legendary in its ridiculousness.


5. “F-Troop”

Odds are we’re not going to get a sitcom set in the Old West anytime soon, but compounding the matter is the fact that F-Troop sported some of particularly awful depictions of Native Americans, as played by Yiddish comedians using broken English and using tribal names that are bad puns. Even in today’s South Park era where racist Asian accents are mainstream comedy again, we tend to leave American Indians alone. As well we should.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.