Let’s face it, not everything we watch on television is exactly “high art”. Everything we view onscreen doesn’t have the eloquence of “Mad Men”, the suspense of “Breaking Bad”, or the comedic timing of “Parks & Recreation” no matter how hard we’d like to think so. Sometimes we just like to kick back and turn our brains off with some simple and sometimes trashy programs. A lot of people list reality television among their guiltiest pleasures because “real life” is funnier than scripted madness. I do not watch any sort of reality TV and instead have looked elsewhere to get my jollies out of watching putrid, horrible shows. Sure, I love “The Wire” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” just as much as the next person but there are a few sitcoms I watch that I admittingly hate myself for. Now let’s stop screwing around and talk about them!
Melissa & Joey
This show is bad. Really, really bad. But there is a certain charm to it that keeps me watching. What is it? For me, it’s the cheese of the two main stars. Both of which I have a rich history with.
Let me take you back in time to the year 1991. As a child born in the late 80’s, I grew up in the 90’s and just like every kid my age, I was addicted to Nickelodeon. I have an older sister who would boss me around because she was the bigger child, so everything she watched, I was forced to watch. Before I could enjoy endless hours of Nicktoons, “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”, “You Can’t Do That On Television”, and “Nick Arcade”, I had to endure what seemed like a lifetime of a little sitcom entitled “Clarissa Explains It All”. The show starred a young Melissa Joan Hart as Clarissa Darling, a sophisticated teenager born of hippie parents. Her annoying younger brother, Ferguson, and male best friend (a girl can have a guy as a best friend? WTF?) Sam, who would always climb through her bedroom window with a ladder, rounded out the cast. I hated watching the show against my will because as I stated verbatim, “it starred a girl and I didn’t wanna watch any of that girly crap” but as I got a little older, I was quickly drawn into it and saw that Clarissa had the coolest life. She created her own video games, loved Pearl Jam, wore Doc Martin boots, and owned a pet crocodile named Elvis (yes, she had a baby crocodile who lived in her room. What kid wouldn’t want that?). I have not seen anything from this series, outside of a few clips on YouTube, since it aired on television. Does it still hold up today? I prefer to leave the memories alone. When the series ended in 1994, reruns aired for years while Hart moved on to another sitcom, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, on ABC in 1996. I wasn’t as big a fan of this show but I watched it when I could. Now onto….
This same older sister of mine was also obsessed with another sitcom in the early 90’s, “Blossom”, which aired on NBC. This one starred Mayim Bialik (who currently plays Amy on Big Bang Theory) as the titular teen learning the ropes of her coming-of-age. Her character had two older brothers, one of which was a young, good looking actor named Joey Lawrence. Lawrence often played the show’s comic relief and developed a catchphrase in “Woah!” which caught on like fire with audiences and his popularity wound up eclipsing the show itself. People all over the world, including me, would tune in every week just to hear him utter “woah!” and smile with glee. His launch into superstardom was so huge that he even released a pop music album (which I bought, don’t judge me. Ok fine, judge me but I was young!) which spawned a hit single with “Nothin’ My Love Can’t Fix” in 1993. Let that sink in for a second.
Joey. Lawrence. Had a hit single. Yes.
Lawrence actually had another sitcom that I watched in 1995 entitled “Brotherly Love” which saw him team with his two real-life younger brothers, Matthew and Andrew. It lasted two seasons before it was cancelled. In conclusion, Lawrence always possessed a distinct charisma that helped make up for his so-so acting ability.
Hoping that their past fame will help them succeed years after their popularity has faded, these two 90’s favorites eventually teamed up to bring us “Melissa & Joey”. This one portrays Hart as a single Councilwoman from Toledo, Ohio who takes in her young niece and nephew when their father goes to prison following a huge ponzi scheme costing lots of people millions of dollars. Enter Mr. Lawrence who is also asked to live with her family and become their male housekeeper/nanny after being one of the victims in the tragic incident. The series surprisingly wound up being a major hit for ABC Family. After growing up with these two stars, I can’t help but love this simple, mindless atrocity. The writing and jokes are lame and the banter between the two leads is horribly forced but I can’t escape the childhood that Lawrence and Hart helped shape for me.
2 Broke Girls
One of my favorite comedic films of the 2000s was undoubtedly “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and that film introduced me and a lot of people to the gorgeous Kat Dennings. When she first shows up bouncing around in that tight t-shirt, I immediately had to know who she was and why she had evaded my life up until then. I would later catch her in films like Charlie Bartlett, The House Bunny, and Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, and always be drawn to her beauty (and assets if you know what I mean). So when I found out that Ms. Dennings was getting her very own sitcom on CBS, I was ecstatic. When I found out it was to be set in my hometown of New York City, I was even more excited. When the night of the premiere finally came, I was left…underwhelmed. In “2 Broke Girls”, Dennings plays a snarky, poor Brooklyn waitress who takes in a leggy blonde woman (played by Beth Behrs whose claim to fame before this series was starring in one of the direct-to-DVD American Pie sequels) after her family goes broke following a huge embezzlement scheme (sound familiar?) which lands her father in the big house. First off, the writing for this show is just down right horrible. More than half the jokes in the series are about Kat Dennings’ breasts which was funny the first few times because EVERYONE is thinking about her huge chest but after what feels like the 1,037th time, it becomes mind numbingly painful. Second, one of the show’s executive producers is the brutally unfunny and untalented Whitney Cummings (who had her own sitcom that lasted two seasons. How anything with her starring can last more than one episode before getting shitcanned is beyond me). Three, it tries way too hard to be “edgy”. There are sexual jokes that try to push the envelope but are done in such a dumbed-down manner that it feels like an 8-year-old learning their very first curse word alongside racist jokes that come off more offensive than humorous. Not to mention a plethora of jokes about hipsters since the show takes place in Brooklyn and therefore NEED to be made.
Despite all of this, the two beautiful leads (with an honorable mention to co-star and Saturday Night Live alum, Garrett Morris) and their personalities help keep the show from getting the boot and some guy like me to tune in every week to see what “wacky adventures” they get into next. Remember kids, never underestimate the power of Kat Dennings (‘ breasts).