By Nick Christiansen
Sitcoms are not regarded as the most impressive or clever pieces of media one can watch, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t impressive. Sitcoms produce more episodes and seasons per show than any other genre and they manage to consistently rake in huge amounts of cash. The writers of these shows are able to consistently crank out funny episodes and interesting plots around the same 4-5 characters day after day. After watching the behind the scenes video of Friends, I was left with a feeling of respect for the shows creators; the amount of effort these people put into each episode made me regain some appreciation for a show that I’ve previously been known to bashed for unfunny and mundane writing. To be fair, I re-watched some Seinfeld (a show I remember liking as a child) and found that it drove me crazy with how bad the jokes were so perhaps some sitcoms just don’t age well.
When it comes to One Day at a Time, I found that the writing was very fresh and that even when talking about feminism, it didn’t bother me with overly biased writing. So perhaps Friends is incredibly stale because the recipe of a sitcom revolving around a group of white friends in their 20’s living in New York is very overdone. After all, Seinfeld did it and How I Met Your Mother made the mistake of doing it (yes that show is disappointing), so I myself find find any plot made between a group of friends in that city to be as flavorless as a piece of drywall. Although One Day at a Time doesn’t make sets outside of the home and office very often, at least the cast is very interesting. The mom is Latina and a veteran. With her and the grandma’s banter, something interesting is always said. The show isn’t afraid to get political too. This is generally a very bad thing in my mind, but the show traverses this sensitive territory in a very smooth way. For example, when the mom encounters a coworker that doesn’t listen to her ideas, she doesn’t take her feminist daughter’s advice to confront him, but decides to go straight to the boss to share her idea. This way she skips the drama and a forced speech. The clever writers then set it up where the man steals her idea right in front of her thus setting her up to finally chew the guy out in a fluid and non forceful way. It is easy to tell that a lot of thought went into the writing and it is also very pleasing to have the grandma on the show to counter the feminist daughter’s views with traditional ones. This keeps things balanced and sometimes makes the overly eager daughter reset her views to be more realistic.
I think it is also safe to say that the producers of this show spend more time writing the script than worrying about things like sets and how they’re gonna build them. This way they can prioritize what really matters in a show (the script) instead of overextending themselves to the point where they have to make writing changes on the fly like in Friends. This show didn’t make me like sitcoms, but I did find myself enjoying the show. Also, the traditional grandmother never ceased to create dialogue moments to shock and appall the feminist daughter (my favorite part of the show). Even the son was fun to watch as he is smart and cocky and overall feels very realistic to me. Back to the set, the crew did a great job at making the home appear as vibrant as the cast. The couch pillows are a bright orange and even the can of coffee in the kitchen is bright yellow. The home decor even compliments the characters. For example, the curtains to the grandma’s room allow for entrances and exits as dramatic as the woman herself. The set even helps tell the story like when grandma puts up a picture of the pope. It is little details like this that let you know that the set builders did a good job. I think the use of multiple cameras also compliments the show well because it allows the acting to be as fluid as possible and therefor conveys the dynamic the actors have between each other as accurately as possible.