Where did sitcoms go to die? Over to Kids' TV, specifically the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon in the States and Family Channel and YTV in Canada. The notion struck me last spring as I stood on the red carpet down in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., waiting for the Jonas Brothers and other Disney Games participants to work a frenzied, jam-packed press event. It was as if the babies from TGiF sitcoms like Full House and more recent family sitcoms like Everybody Loves Raymond or According to Jim had grown up (a little) and taken over television.
Older viewers seem burnt out on these traditional three- or four-camera sitcoms (with Two and a Half Men and perhaps CBS's funny The Big Bang Theory being the current popular exceptions). Edgier, one-camera comedies like 30 Rock and The Office are getting all the love from critics. Young viewers, "'tweens" or even kids as young as six, seemed to be embracing the old sitcom format as fed to them by Disney and others. Too young to be jaded or to have heard all those jokes before, and jazzed that anybody on TV was making shows for them starring kids their age (or slightly older), youngsters are all over Hannah Montana's Miley Cyrus, the Sprouse twins, iCarly, etc.
It's all in "Funny how 'tween TV is now sitcom central," a feature I wrote for yesterday's Toronto Sun (read it here). Several Canadians are players in this booming 'tween trend, including Life with Derek star Michael Seater and The Latest Buzz's creator Brent Piaskoski.
If you already have a nine, 10 or 11-year-old at home, yes, thanks, I do have a firm grasp of the obvious.