Trying something different where I will take two sitcoms and decide which one is better. The two shows’ I have decided to start with may not immediately seem that similar, but as you will see they do have some things in common. They are both good family sitcoms, but which one is superior?


Home Improvement premiered in 1991 and at first people wondered if it would even catch on. How could Tim Taylor blowing things up every episode be interesting? What we got was a reasonable family sitcom with some good laughs. Everybody Loves Raymond premiered in 1997 and wasn’t a hit right away either. But once fans started to notice this little show, they loved it. But which was better?




Category 1=Husbands
Tim Taylor vs Ray Barone
          

 

Tim and Ray are two different ends of the spectrum. Tim has a lot of self-confidence. Maybe a tad too much, as he is always determined to make everything bigger and better. No matter how many things blow up on him, he keeps coming back. Ray has no self-confidence. He worries about everything, even things no rational person would worry about. He once won an award, and worried about it!  Where these two really diverge is their role as husband and father. Ray is so lazy; he neglects his wife and children. He would rather stare at the TV or be out golfing. Tim is always there for his kids; whether it is to give them some advice or even to discipline them. Unlike Ray, he is not afraid to let his kids know when he is less then pleased with them. He also does a better job at trying to be a good husband; he doesn’t forget a birthday or holiday and does what Jill asks him to do. While Tim struggled with his caveman attitudes toward relationships, Ray simply struggled with not getting enough sex. Seriously, I can’t think of another adult in a sitcom as horny as this guy. It always seems his focus no matter what else is going on around him. Whether it be Halloween, or Christmas morning, or whatever else. On the other hand Ray at least is able to realize his mistakes whereas Tim needs Wilson to point out the error of his ways. Then again at least Tim is willing to change unlike Ray who refuses to evolve at all. Despite that while it’s true Tim sometimes makes mistakes and is forgetful, he can’t compare with the way Ray acts most of the time which is just a lazy, horny idiot.
Winner-Tim Taylor

Category 2-Wives
Debra Barone vs Jill Taylor

 

 


I know this one is no shock, but read on anyway. Jill and Debra are both frustrated housewives. However, Debra tends to push past frustrated into being just plain mean. Once I was having a discussion with my now ex about the difference between these two, and I noted that at least with Jill you feel like she loves her husband. Then my ex made a great point, Ray is not as dumb as Tim. That is valid; Ray is neglectful and does as little as possible. At least Tim helps out, even if many times that ends with something blowing up. However, that doesn’t excuse some of the things Debra does. She rolls her eyes, calls Ray an idiot out loud, and is even abusive at times. Jill supports her husband and stands by him, and as I said you never doubt for a second she loves him. With Debra, you wonder why she doesn’t just take the kids and leave. I think the real difference between these two is that Jill is willing to step back and acknowledge her mistakes, plus she is not a perfect person she has all kinds of quirks including being a bad cook, unable to hold a job, and being a bit quick to doll out psychological advice. Ok Debra is also a bad cook but she also comes off as little ms. Perfect who never makes any mistakes. She never apologizes for her actions especially to Ray. She also tends to push Ray into situations and then back off rather than help or stand up with him. Where Jill will support Tim, Debra will flat out laugh at Ray and mock him. In a contest between these two, it’s clear who the winner is.
Winner=Jill Taylor

Category 3-The kids
    
This seems like an easy category, but hold on a minute. On Home Improvement we knew the kids really well in the start only to have them fade toward the end of the series. On ELR the kids were sort of in the background in the start only to get more attention as they got older. On Improvement you had Brad the oldest child, Randy the brainy middle child, and Mark the cute kid who as usual ceased being interesting when he got older. Everybody Loves Raymond had Ally and Michael and Geoffrey who didn’t appear in every episode. But you know when they did appear in a story it was usually an episode about them. Ally making fun of a girl on the bus, Michael can’t play Basketball while Geoffrey has to be left back. In another one Geoffrey even outs his family as being “angry”. The Taylor boys just seem to exist in the early days to scream and the way Brad and Randy tormented Mark was horrible. When an episode about them popped up the story was more about how Tim feels about what was going on rather than the kid. For instance when Brad gets into trouble with the cops, the conflict is focused on Tim more than Brad. As the series progressed they were in episodes, but the stories were rarely “about” them. Also the Barone kids acted more like real kids did; playing in the background or annoying each other, while the Taylor boys were more the perfect kids who only had problems when the episode called for it. But I really can’t see giving this to ELR which tried so hard to put the kids into the background, at least on Home Improvement they were always there even in a limited capacity.

 

WINNER=HOME IMPROVEMENT

Category 4-Supporting Cast


No show is complete without a good supporting cast. Home Improvement’s early years the supporting cast was Al and Wilson. Al and Wilson both kind of filled the same function, being the voice of reason. Al was more comic relief, and Wilson would always be the one to make Tim see the error of his ways. Of course, the creators realized that they needed a few more people so as time went on Al and Wilson’s roles were enlarged, Heidi came on as a regular, and Tim suddenly had a circle of friends he would hang out with in a hardware store. However, they waited a little too long and we never really cared for these new people. It was also a big change for the show since the supporting cast was never the focus until maybe the last season or so. On Raymond, the supporting cast was the whole show. Seriously, would anyone have watched without Marie, Frank, and Robert? Marie and Frank were comedy gold every time they were on, and Robert was the sad sack brother. I give Brad Garrett lots of credit for making Robert charming enough to be likable. Marie and Frank was a classic old married couple always arguing. They were so good you’d almost believe it had never been done on TV before! Marie was also the controlling mother and I always wondered what she did to make her 40 year old adult sons shake in fear whenever the risk of her ego being threatened came up. Frank was a tyrant not to mention a slob. But the simple fact is without Marie, Frank, and Robert there would be no show whereas Home Improvement could have functioned just fine without Al or Wilson. So the winner is easy.

 

Winner=Everybody Loves Raymond

Category 5-Theme Song
Theme songs are important, very often they are the thing that people remember most from a show. Home Improvement’s theme is a clunky music mixed with funny graphics. To be honest, while it fits the show very well it’s not a favorite. Unlike Raymond which is a softer piano melody which I prefer over the harsh Home Improvement tune.

Winner=EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND

Category 6-Premise


It’s easy to take two movies and decide which tells a story better. It’s not so easy with a sitcom; there are almost 200 hundred episodes of each show to consider. These shows are family sitcoms, so what’s the difference? Home Improvement was a perfect happy family while Everybody Loves Raymond had a dysfunctional, not so perfect family. The stories were a lot smaller, as they just dealt with small little slices of life which would be B stories on Home Improvement. Of course Home Improvement also had Tool Time, and in the beginning they tried to tie the Tool Time stuff to the plot of the episode. However as the show went on that got harder and harder. There was also the predictable formula for that show. Time messes up, Jill gets mad, Tim talks to Wilson who straightens Tim out, Tim apologizes while mixing Wilson’s message and everyone is happy again. Of course Everybody Loves Raymond had a formula to, which was Ray is an idiot and whatever the problem of the week is, it is either Ray’s fault or up to him to fix it and for some reason they always had to blame Ray, even if it was clear he was not at fault. Not that they never tried that on Home Improvement with Tim but the problem with Home Improvement wasn’t with the family stuff, but the other gags where Tim would blow something up. They tended to get a little far-fetched and silly. How many times would Tim have died if the show was real life? As a family show it was great but the stunts and tool gags got predictable after a while. Unfortunately that is the difference that hurts Home Improvement. Everybody Loves Raymond was grounded in its realism. It never did wild episodes or dream sequences, it took a problem and analyzed it honestly. That is what made the stories ultimately more relatable and why this show is a bit more loved today.

 

WINNER=EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND

Okay, so we have a tie. How are we going to pick a winner? The final category will be to decide which show stayed the course more for its run.

 

Final category-Jumping the shark


All shows when they get to a certain point begin to get stale, it’s almost inevitable. It happens to the best of them. Both of these shows were getting stale but which was worst? Everybody Loves Raymond really settled into a formula those last couple years. Something would happen and the episode would end with the family yelling at each other in the kitchen. In the early days the yelling would serve the story, by this point the characters were just yelling at each other whether there was a reason or not. Home Improvement at least tried to think outside of the box once in a while. They tried to do different things especially with Tool Time. True sometimes those things got silly and some episode were a little to “real”. The final episode of Everybody Loves Raymond was just another regular episode with little fanfare. It was a strong episode with a satisfying ending but it may have been too small. However, Home Improvement was a little more satisfying. The final episode really did a decent job of feeling like an ending. It had the final Tool Time, had Al finally get married, and Tim and Jill discuss where they would be happiest living while they realize how lucky they are. So in the final analysis we find that while Everybody Loves Raymond was well written and relatable, it had something Home Improvement clearly did not. Likable characters that we really cared about. It was hard to like Ray and Debra, really hard at times, but always easy to love Tim and Jill. They were a loving couple who worked hard, loved their kids, and yeah maybe argued once in awhile but that wasn’t the one thing that defined them. That is why as much as I enjoy Raymond, I think that the winner and better show has to be…..

I hope you enjoyed these, I hope to do more and if you have any suggestions please feel free to let me know.

 

By richb

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