At the start of the year I listed five cliches which always appear in sitcoms, and always drive me nuts. Here are five more!
#5.The Gay Gag
Not sure if this is still around but man was it around back in the 90’s! The gag is simple, someone things one of the characters is gay. Frasier had one of its best episodes around that when a co-worker thinks Frasier is gay. Seinfeld did it in “The Outing”, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Chandler was believed to be gay more than once on Friends. On Just Shoot Me Finch had to convince his own father he wasn’t gay. It didn’t start in the 90’s, back on an episode of WKRP a man thinks Les Nessman is gay which sends Les into a crisis!
#4.The Kids Trash the House
You’d think parents on sitcoms would no not to go away and leave the kids alone in the house. I guess it wouldn’t be a family show if they didn’t portray this rite of passage. Theo threw a wild party that got his house trashed on The Cosby Show. Mike did the same thing on Growing Pains. On Home Improvement Brad threw a wild Halloween party which got broken up before any serious damage could be done.
#3.Missing the Big Fight/Game
This gag has been done to DEATH!! It’s real simple, there is a big game on. It can be a football game or a heavywight fight. Usually the story involves a character getting a big TV they can’t afford. Everyone gathers to watch, and guess what happens? The TV explodes or is destroyed…or is simply turned off at the wrong moment causing the characters to miss the “greatest play in the history of sports”. This has been done in Night Court, Seinfeld, Home Improvement, Who’S The Boss?, King of Queens, Wings, and that is just to name a few. Even Punky Brewster did a varation, one episode had Henry listening to a piece of classical music when Mrs.Garrett changes the channel. Henry turns it back only to find out he just missed “the greatest piece of music ever”.
It was my friend Les who remidned me if this one, and it’s a great one! This joke has been way toÂ many time, and the truth is it was never funny! But very often teh cast gets stranded from a shipwreck or place accident, and find out at the end of the episode that civiliation was, inf act, just over the hill! Stupid. It has been done in Benson, Cheers, King of Queens, and Full House in one of the most flagrant offenses! Some shows like The Nanny kind of subvert this because when Fran and Maxwell were stranded on a desserted island they really were stranded, and had to be found by a helicopter.Roseanne did a fantasy episode where they are stranded ala Gilligan’s Island. It doesn’t have to be an island of course. Big Bang Theory did an episode last year where the guys were stuck on the side of the road in full Star Trek costumes. And do I have to talk about Seinfeld’s classic episode “The Parking Garage”?
#1.Going into Labor at the WORST POSSIBLE TIME!
Is there anything more overused than this? What is it with mothers going into labor at the worst times? On Mary Tyler Moore, Georgette goes into labor at one of Mary’s partirs and ends up delivering in Mary’s bedroom! On Family Ties, Elyse went into Labor when she was on live TV, and Steven was stuck in a snow storm. On Home Improvement, Heidi went into labor when she was stranded with Tim and Jill in the middle of nowhere. They end up at a run down gas station where Tim delivers the baby with Wilson’s aid. On Full House Rebecca went into labor right in the middle of Michelle’s birthday party. Murphy Brown’s water broke when she was live on the air. One episode of Night Court had a Lamaze class brought it by nistake, during a hurricane. The power goes out, and ALL THE WOMEN GO INTO LABOR! As you can imagine, hijinjs ensued! On Mad About You it was sex that made Jamie go into labor. That wasn’t so unusual, what was was the idiotic story of how Paul met Bruce Willis. On Cheers Lilith goes into labor right in the middle of the a big celebration for Cheers anniversary which included Boston’s mayor. On Fresh Prince Vivian went into labor when there was no one around to drive her to the hospital, except Ashley. Of course of all the different types of these, having a baby in an elevator tops them all. It has happened so often in sitcoms you would think it was a normal thing. I give credit to Friends, they had several birth episodes but they never resorted to this trope. I think the funniest one was when Maggie on Growing Pains went into labor in the middle of the opening theme song. What a cute gag!