A Few Thoughts On Fantasy-Based Sitcoms

This morning I found myself doing something I haven’t done since I was a little kid: watching Bewitched and I Dream Of Jeannie reruns on TV Land. I don’t remember if I was ever a die hard fan of either show, but there was a time in my pop culture upbringing when I did watch these shows along with other classic 60s and 70s sitcoms on a fairly regular basis. Seeing this pair of fantasy-based sitcom classics got me wondering why we don’t have these kinds of shows anymore. I read somewhere that All In The Family–which I haven’t watched nearly enough because Archie Bunker reminded me of a mean grandpa when I was a kid–basically changed the landscape of sitcoms turning away from the more fantastical elements like witches, monsters and genies and towards more reality based shows. That was definitely an important leap, especially because it helped turn the sitcom more legitimate instead of treating them as goofy nonsense.

It’s a few decades past that switch and I think it’s about time to get back to some more fantastical sitcoms. When I say fantastical I don’t just mean supernatural shows like Betwitched and Jeannie but also The Addams Family and The Munsters, but also more realistic shows with wacky premises like Gilligan’s Island. Sure those shows had some really corny elements to them, but think about how interesting and fun a fantastical concept could be if handled by, say, the How I Met Your Mother or Big Bang Theory writing crews? Just because the concepts might be silly (silly isn’t always bad) doesn’t mean a show like that couldn’t have a heart to it and be treated with some respect. Even as “genre” dramas like Lost, Battlestar Galactica and Vampire Diaries get more and more popular I think it would take someone with a lot of success already under their belts to actually get a half hour fantastical sitcom on the air, but I hope someone’s at least thinking about it. Eureka‘s a good example, but even that’s more of an action show. It’s great to see fantasy, sci-fi and horror making their ways into longer form shows, but it’s about time they return to the world of sitcoms!

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