Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Can a multi-camera sitcom ever win an Emmy?

Here’s a Friday Question that became a whole post even though I don’t really have an answer and went off on a tangent.

VP81955 asked it.

In last week's "The Envelope" in the L.A. Times (which included a conversation between Norman Lear and Chuck Lorre), it was noted no multi-cam sitcom has won a best situation comedy since "Everybody Loves Raymond" in 2005. What do you think will be the next one?

Whatever it is, it’s not on the air yet.

An argument can be made for MOM, but the Academy seems to resent Chuck Lorre so I think it would be an uphill battle. And that’s unfortunate because MOM is certainly deserving. Over the years it has deepened and gotten sharper.

It seems silly to me that THE BIG BANG THEORY has never won. Say what you will, it is the most popular sitcom on the air by a large margin and has been for years. Shouldn’t that account for something? There may not be a lot of depth there, but it is funny and at least one year deserves recognition. But then you have the Chuck Lorre factor.

Other than those two, I can’t think of another serious contender. Multi-camera shows are no longer in favor so networks are putting fewer on the air. And the ones that do make the schedule seem to fall into one of two categories: mainstream family fare or low road raunch.

CBS has two new multi-cams premiering in the Fall. They’re the same show. Former sitcom star plays a dad who must now take care of his kids, and big shocker, the kids are more of a handful than he expected. Kevin James and Matt LeBlanc are the two former sitcom stars. I don’t think the ultimate goal is Emmys.

Although the genre is in a rut now, there’s no reason why the next groundbreaking hit comedy can’t be a multi-camera. Over the last sixty years the overwhelming majority of best written, most loved, and most admired sitcoms have been multi-camera. You don’t have to do 2 BROKE GIRLS. You can do FRASIER. Or SEINFELD. Or FRIENDS.

And one day somebody will. It will seem like a revelation. A well-written intelligent comedy that’s actually funny, is relatable to young audiences, and is about something – why didn’t anyone ever think of that before?

Emmys will follow. And television, being what it is – the star of that show will come back ten years later in a new show about a father having to wrangle three kids.


Wendy M. Grossman said...

Eventually, I suppose the academy will have to grudgingly present Lorre with a lifetime achievement award. I love MOM - not least, for the sheer pleasure of seeing all those great actresses over 40 on screen together playing interesting characters. I loved TBBT in its early years. Even 2 1/2 MEN was very sharp its first couple of seasons.

In the closing vanity card for this year's season of MOM - it's up on the front page of chucklorre.com right now, Lorre wrote:

"I've been told by some worried Warner Bros. executives that the show does not do as well with men as it does with women. As you can imagine, this is cause for concern."

I struggle to imagine the execs being as bothered if the show skewed male. Would they? Friday question, I guess.


DBA said...

The problem with The Big Bang Theory is that, while yes, probably one year deserving of the Emmy, that year was about six years ago. It's long since gone on autopilot.

K.W. Leslie said...

I think The Carmichael Show may be a contender.

Anonymous said...

Just saw this. Interesting.


Pam, St. Louis

scott said...

Big Bang Theory never won an Emmy? Well, since The Bob Newhart Show never won an Emmy for anything, I can live with that.

Andy Rose said...

Jim Parsons has won 4 Emmys for playing Sheldon. I guess the Academy likes him better than they like Chuck Lorre.

Frank Beans said...

For a CHEERS stage revival to work, it would have re-create the intimacy, subtlety, sensitivity, and wit of the original series. I find this an unlikely thing to appeal to mass audiences in an era where "Hamilton" is considered The Greatest Thing Of All Time in live musical theater. Then again, trends change, and maybe there's a generation coming up that will rediscover more venerable comedy traditions. I'm not betting on it any time soon.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Separate subject, but the "GOODBYE RADAR" Episodes are on ME TV tonight - Tuesday the 21st (at least my DVR says so).

Myles said...

Was going to say the same thing. It's definitely deserving but so underrated (by fans while critics actually like it) so it may be overlooked.

MikeK.Pa. said...

I watched MOM last night for the first time. Never been a big Anna Faris fan. The writing was really good and guest star Linda Lavin killed as the cynical Jewish mother. I kept thinking how secure the stars of the show must be to have let the writers feed Lavin with so many great lines.

Steve B. said...

All of the top sitcoms on Disney Channel and Nickelodeon are multicams, and have been for years. So, it's not like the younger generation doesn't "get" them - they've actually grown up with them. It seems like network execs think this format is something a younger generation would be driven away from, but the evidence on the kid's channels proves just the opposite.

VP81955 said...

No surprise -- remember, Anna is top-billed, yet plays good soldier and lets Allison Janney walk off with the Emmys. This isn't Cybill Shepherd and Christine Baranski. Anna's had some superb performances this season, and I hope she's rewarded with an Emmy nomination.

Sarah said...

I still like Big Bang (good comfort TV, at least for me), and have seen the first season and a half or so of Mom and liked it a lot. Have never seen an episode of 2 and 1/2 men. My question is - why do you think the academy dislikes Chuck Lorre? Is it just the Charlie Sheen factor? Or the fact that he tends to produce high rated shows with not a lot of depth (minus "Mom", of course)

Diane D. said...

Whenever the subject is single or multi-cam, I am just baffled. Of course, most readers of this blog are in the business in some way, and I am just someone who loves good movies and TV shows. ( CHEERS is what brought me to the blog) The only things that matter to me are good writing, good acting, good casting, and (I guess) good cinematography---although that includes more than just lighting and I am only referring to lighting. I hate to admit this, but I don't notice anything else. I wish I could understand how the audience can even tell if it is single cam or not. Can they? Or is it only the artists and critics? CHEERS was just phenomenal in all 4 areas that matter to me. I have rarely seen a movie or Television scene as moving as the one where Diane is sitting alone on the foot rail of the bar in a yellow dress, in the dark, after she has overheard Sam say he is going to fire her. The lighting was so gorgeous, the scene so heartbreaking. And yet I feel like I must be missing something by not appreciating the single/multi cam aspect.
Well, I don't expect anyone to respond to this but just had to throw it out there. It seems like that issue comes up so much.

MikeN said...

Friday Question, if Adam Sandler said he wanted you to work with him for a script of a movie, would you do it?

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Diane D.
I hope you find this reply!

I'm not in the biz either so I think I can give you a lay version of Multi/Single cam sitcoms.

Multi Cams, are those shows that use many cameras at the same time. Often they have the feeling of a play, generally have just a few consistent sets, and a Studio Audience.
examples: CHEERS, FRASIER, Everybody Loves Raymond, All in the Family.
MOM, Big Bang Theory.

Single Cams, feel like a film sometimes, more out door sets and often has lots of different views.
examples: M*A*S*H, The Office, Arrested Development, Gilligans Island
The Middle, Modern Family, New Girl.

There are some sitcoms that incorporate both like How I met your mother.

A good contrast in styles is HAPPY DAYS.
Seasons 1-2 were filmed. Single Cam.

Seasons 3- were in front of a studio audience.

Diane D. said...

Bumble Bee Pendant

I'm so glad I decided to check back one more time to see if anyone responded to my comment! Your explanation was so helpful, and I will watch the two HAPPY DAYS episodes for comparison.

Thank you so much for taking the time to respond; it was very kind of you!

Alec Horowitz said...

The closest thing to a well written, mold breaking and overall smart and revenant sitcom in the classic format is "The Carmichael Show".

DWalker said...

Are all "single-camera" shows shot with truly only one camera? Does the camera get repositioned between shots? Are there more delays while filming, than with a multi-camera sitcom? I agree that this is not an obvious difference to those of us not in the business. Thanks.