I have talked a lot about story cliché’s, those stories which pop up in every sitcom. For instance how every show has to do at least one bowling episode like it’s some kind of rule or how every sitcom has one annoying neighbor who drops in without invite.

But what about those little clichés which are not plot related, but seem to appear again and again in sitcoms. Here are the five most annoying.

#5. To Be Continued

I always loved the Seinfeld bit about how annoying it iswhen you can sense the To Be Continued coming. We all know that feeling, that there is no way that the story can be wrapped up in the time allowed.  In my day, being as old as I am, very often we didn’t see that coming and it was annoying. In fact in another article I willtalk about a “To Be Continued” which was nearly traumatic! But that is another article…………

#4.The Misunderstanding

Sometimes you feel like this is the only plot device sitcomwriters understand. Three’s Company perfected this, doing a misunderstanding all the time. Years later Frasier came along, and despite being a smart and well written show the misunderstanding figured into many episodes. This is really abused in romantic comedies, but that’s another discussion.

#3.The Idiot

This one is really old, and yet it pops up in every sitcom. When are people going to realize that you don’t have to have a stupid character? You had Tony on Taxi, Rose on Golden Girls, Joey on Friends, and the other Joey on Blossom. People aren’t this stupid in life and it takes a special performer to make this character believable. Betty White could do it well because she’s a pro, but Joey Lawrence on the other hand….

#2.The laugh at the end

You don’t see this one as much as you did in the old days,but man was it around once upon a time. It was the same thing. Every episode the story was over and they needed to find something to wrap it up. What do they do? They have the characters exchange dialogue and make a joke, and suddenly freeze frame on the group laughing. This is so annoying, even StarTrek did it at least once! The Brady Bunch was really bad with this one,usually making Alice the person who makes the joke.

#1.”I’ll Explain it to you Later”

From a story point of view I guess this makes sense. You don’t want to bore the audience by repeating things they have already seen or been explained. But can’t these writers’ find a more original way of dealing with this? If I became aware of a situation and someone said that to me I would be angry. Explain it to me! These words are repeated so often I can’t even list all the times I have heard it. It’s a writer’s trick to avoid unnecessary exposition, and it really shows. It also gets overused, I have seen it used in scenes where it would have taken five seconds for the others to fill thecharacter in. But instead we get “I’ll explain it to you later”. Annoying!

There you have it, five annoying sitcom cliché’s. Let me know if I missed your favorite.

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