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A recent article I read said that Netflix no longer was interested in developing “Sad Coms.”  Now that’s a term I had never heard, but its meaning is clear.  And maybe puts a finger on why I don’t like many current sitcoms.  

At the heart of these shows is a character or characters who are miserable.  We’re supposed to find their struggles, most of them futile, amusing.  The various ways they fail or fuck themselves over is the path to comedy.  

I acknowledge it may be a generational thing, but I tend to find those shows depressing.  Yes, there needs to be conflict, yes your protagonist needs to struggle, but as I writer I’ve always felt it was my job to love my characters.  They could be horribly flawed, but like a proud father, I had to love them.  

I don’t get the sense that the writers of “sad coms” love their characters.  They’re all too delighted to humiliate them for our entertainment.  So there’s a certain mean-spirited quality that goes into the writing.

All too often characters are so self-destructive that you lose empathy for them.  

I do think this is one of the reasons why TED LASSO was such a hit.  To center the show around a hugely positive character was brilliant.  Netflix and other platforms are seeing that there is a limited appeal for “sad coms” while brighter, life-affirming shows are attracting viewers.  

We’re all engulfed in such dark times.  Why must all our comedy be dark as well?  Again, I’m admittedly from a different era, but I miss sitcoms with characters I care about, grounded in humanity, that make me genuinely laugh.   Just for fun, how about developing a few of those? 

Source: Ken Levine

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