Another Sitcom face-off, where I take two similar sitcoms and decide which one is better than the other. The first two times I chose to pit a great show vs a mediocre show, and of course the great show on. Last time I put two hit shows against each other, and it was neck to neck. Today I thought I would pit two mediocre shows against one another and see what happened. So we have:
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In the early 90’s we got a show about a married couple coping with the everyday nuances of married life. Mad About You tried to be Seinfeld for married people, especially in the early days. In the end of the 90’s we got a show about a married couple struggling with married life.The King of Queens tried to be like Everybody Loves Raymond but instead of the parents being next door, Carrie’s father literally lives in the same house. Essentially the same premise with slight differences, but which show was generally better?
 

Let’s start by comparing out male leads.
ROUND 1-Male Leads

Paul Buchman vs. Doug Heffernan

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These guys tried very hard to be good husbands. However, that’s where the comparisons end. Paul was a professional filmmaker who had made dozens of documentaries and is pretty well respected. Doug is a little less ambitious, he feel in to a job at IPS (a rip-off of UPS), and has made himself comfortable staying at this same job. He drives his truck around delivering packages and is fine with it. Paul is much more neurotic, he tends to worry obsessively even about the most mundane things. Doug is more laid back, almost too laid back in fact as he would have no problem spending every day parked on the couch staring at the TV. Doug also has a bit of weight problem and eats, a lot. They are both good guys who try hard to make people happy; Paul loves his wife and his dog Murray. Doug loves his wife and loves how strong she is, as long as she isn’t aiming at him when she goes off. Doug also has to put up with Arthur, and the fact that he can manage to keep his marriage healthy with Arthur living in the basement is a real example of how strong he can be. The problem is he just doesn’t like to apply himself unless he has to. So, who’s the winner? Paul is a good guy but I think he has more flaws. He is neurotic and tends to be self absorbed, almost to the point where everything has to be about him and when something good happens he insists on full gratitude even if it’s at the expense of others. Doug has his problems too but he is more easygoing, and just a better guy.

WINNER-DOUG HEFFERNAN

 

 

ROUND 2-female leads

Jamie Buchman vs. Carrie Heffernan

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Jamie and Carrie are both hard working women trying to make their lives better. Carrie works as a legal secretary with dreams of moving to Manhattan. Jamie works in PR and in the beginning had the show had a high profile job, in the end she had her own company with her best friend. Jamie was also neurotic but she had it under control a little better than her husband. She seemed to have a better sense of where to draw the line, where usually Paul would just go off. Carrie had anger issues; if anyone crossed her then she would unload on them. There are many episodes where we people genuinely afraid of her. Carrie also had trouble accepting her own flaws, a trait which Jamie also possessed. Neither was quick to admit a mistake, and Carrie would argue around Doug and throw insults at him. Jamie and Carrie had sisters but Carrie’s disappeared during the run. Jamie was a mother hen, she had to take care of everyone around her whether they liked it or not. On the other hand both ladies did have a soft side and I never doubted either loved their husbands. However, as both series went on Jamie went from being cute and likable to almost shrill near the end. I could never understand why this happened, but Carrie stayed pretty constant. However, I still have to give the award to Jamie because Carrie was a little to mean at times and domineering. Almost to the point where you wondered how Doug could put up with her for a second.

WINNER=JAMIE BUCHMAN

 

 

ROUND 3-CHILDREN

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Mabel vs. ????

I know what you’re thinking, how could I have this category on here? It’s obvious that Mad About You would win because they had a child but King of Queens never did. Well, not quite. The idea behind both these shows was that they would not have kids. The shows were about a married couple, that’s it. Mad About You decided it needed to change things after the horrible arc where they almost split up (oh, we’ll talk about that soon) so they made Jamie pregnant. This was such a mistake, having a baby didn’t do anything to help the show. On the other hands, King of Queens stayed the course and for nine years never broke formula by adding a child. So, I have to give credit where credit is due.

WINNER=King of Queens

 

ROUND 4-SUPPORTING CAST

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This is a tough one. King of Queens had Arthur, and Mad About You had Murray. That may seem like a mean comparison but they hired a dog walker to walk Arthur so I am sticking with it. Arthur was a maddening character; he truly lived in his own world and made up his own rules. He also never took responsibility when his decisions went awry. As for other characters, Mad About You started out with a strong supporting cast, but that didn’t last. When the series started we had Cousin Ira, Lisa, and of course Mark and Fran. For about four years of the show this was a really good supporting cast, they were friends when they needed to be. Then something changed, and except for Ira the supporting cast disappeared. Toward the end the creators had to bring in Paul’s parents full time to get some other people on the show. Just lame. On King of Queens we had Doug’s friends Deacon, Spence, and Richie. Richie disappeared to be replaced by Danny but all in all the supporting cast stayed solid. We also had Kelly, who was married to Deacon. One similarity with these shows is that Mark and Fran split up and almost divorced as did Kelly and Deacon. For a strong supporting cast that didn’t disappear, I would have to give the award to King of Queens.

WINNER=KING OF QUEENS

 

ROUND 5-THEME SONG

Both these theme songs are pretty good. “The Final Frontier” sets the tone of the series just as well as “”Baby All My Life I Will Be Driving Home To You”. However, Mad About You does it a little better.

 

 

 

 

WINNER=MAD ABOUT YOU

 

 

ROUND 6-PREMISE

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Well, this where it always gets difficult. Which show was better all in all? Basically both series were about a married couple facing life. However, King of Queens tended to be a little broader in its stories. The plots pretty much involved Doug and Carrie get involved in situations, and then trying to figure out how to get out of the situation. On Mad About You, it was a more about life’s little annoyances that pop up when you’re married. The little conflicts and arguments that most married couples have. So, while King of Queens could be funny and well written I think it suffers from episodes that get a little too farfetched. Mad About You didn’t have this problem as much, and especially the first three years there is hardly a bad episode at all. Yes, Mad About You had that horrible arc where Jamie and Paul almost broke up. Sure, the episode where Paul and Jamie resolved their problems was a very well written episode but that whole season of shows just got darker and darker. It was a betrayal of what the show stood for and it never fully recovered from that, I admit it. King of Queens did it to but they saved it for the final episode rather than in the middle of the run. Another problem as I indicated is that Carrie and Doug can be unlikable at times, being very self centered and even mean. Sure, Paul and Jamie argued but it never got into things like threats and name calling. There were times on King of Queens you wondered how they could stay married for a second, and on Mad About You that didn’t happen. You knew they were love, even when they argued. I think I have to give the award to the show which, as a whole, felt more like real life.

WINNER=MAD ABOUT YOU!!

 

 

ROUND 7-Jumping the shark

 

So, how we do we pick a winner? Which show is just simply better? As usual, we will look at the final seasons and last episodes of both and see which stayed the course better. This is going to be painful, because to be honest both of these shows suck in their final seasons. On King of Queens, Doug and Carrie’s darker traits were expanded on and they became almost evil, and totally unlikeable. On Mad About You, the stories got sillier and sillier to the point where it was like watching a parody of a sitcom. There were episodes on a magic coin, a machine which could predict the future, and it just go so dumb. It was embarrassing to watch these shows. King of Queens overall was the strong show, I have to admit. Mad About You was just so bad those last two years. What about final episodes? The final episode of King of Queens was kind of convoluted as Doug and Carrie nearly split up, but in the end they wind up with two children (one adopted). I loved the final episode of Mad About You. Designed as a mock documentary, rather than look back the show looked forward to what would happen to Paul and Jamie after the series. We see they become lousy parents, screw up their kid, split up and almost divorce….again. Wait a minute, what was this show about? I can’t believe this, but I think despite the silly stories and broad jokes I have to give the award to the show which stayed more constant and focused.

 

So the winner, to my surprise, is……

 

 

Final Thoughts-I loved Mad About You, when the show was good it was really good. But the series just got so awful toward the end. King of Queens had flaws too, but in the final analysis those last few years are not as painful to watch.

By richb

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