Lessons for The Class

I have some advice for sitcom writers: pay more attention to your characters. I realize that it’s called “situational” comedy, but it is not enough to try and think up bizarre situation after bizarre situation to throw your characters into. We don’t watch for the set-ups.

I’m thinking of this because The Class continues to disappoint me, even though it got a little bit interesting last night when we learned exactly what was up with Richie wanting to kill himself (And, “hello, Sara Gilbert!”). The thing of it is that Friends still reigns in our household as the most rewatchable, comfortable show ever. And The Class desperately hopes to take over those reins. However, until they focus more on their characters, they’re not going to.

Step one would be having the characters interact. The show feels like four disjointed shows: three rather blah couples and the ever-more-strange dynamic between Holly and her husband and Kyle and his partner. It is called the class — presumably these people should know and speak to and interact with each other. Until they all start hanging out together, it will remain disjointed and awkward. Whatever my beefs may be with Seinfeld, it did at least feature people who seemed to know each other and who could play off of each other.

Step two would be to please G-D let the Kat and Ethan relationship remain platonic. Men and women can be friends, really they can! We don’t need the When Harry Met Sally replay. Some of the best interactions on Friends were things like Chandler and Phoebe breaking up with their significant others together or Monica helping Joey fashion a fake foreskin for an audition. Just because you have an even number of males and females on a show does not mean that they all have to be paired up.

Step three is just the level of comfort that the actors seem not to have with each other. One of the best things about How I Met Your Mother, for example, is Ted and Marshall’s very natural interaction as roommates. The actors genuinely seem casual and friendly toward each other, unlike the stiffness of the interactions among all of the castmates on The Class. Ted and Marshall’s duelling scene on HIMYM is right up there with the best scenes on any sitcom, and it’s not because it’s a ridiculous set-up of a scene. It’s their little asides to each other about “How awesome is this?” You can hear actual roommates speaking to each other in those lines. Say what you will about Four Kings, and I’m not defending it as a great sitcom, but those four actors also seemed to have a genuine camaraderie that came through.

I want to like The Class, but right now I’m really just watching it because it doesn’t conflict with anything else. It’s not a show I’d follow to a different night; it’s not something I’d make room for on the TiVo. I believe that it can be saved, but it’s going to require the writers and actors sincerely doing their homework.

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