According to John Sullivan, creator and writer of the most popular British comedy of all-time, Only Fools and Horses, feels that today’s Britcoms rely on bad language for cheap laughs instead of quality writing. In this interview with the Telegraph, Sullivan says today’s comedies couldn’t hold a candle to the classics of yesteryear such as Fools and Horses or One Foot in the Grave. Sullivan’s long-time friend and OFAH star, Nicholas Lyndhurst, echoed the sentiments, saying that today’s writers and commissioners are not only lazy, but are missing the boat by not commissioning comedies designed for the growing 55+ audience across the country.
Interestingly, Sullivan points to America as the shining example of comedies with higher standards these days, referencing the likes of Everybody Loves Raymond and Frazier as comedies he enjoys.
Just my two cents
Personally, I can agree with Sullivan and Lyndhurst about 90%. While I do think today’s output from the UK is far below what has come to us here in the US in years past, the comedies he points to in America as being “superior” are not new programs either. I would put M*A*S*H, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Cheers and Spin City on that same list. Again, old shows. In later years, both here and abroad, I think the innovative sitcoms or Britcoms have been such series as Coupling, The Office and Modern Family. At the end of the day, there are good ones on both sides of the pond today, you just have to look a lot harder to find the few there are.
One thing that does nothing but help Sullivan’s argument is the difference in standards between American broadcast television and television in the UK. You can get away with a lot more language and blue content in the UK than you can in the U.S. Sullivan and Lyndhurst are correct. It’s easier to throw in an occasional “F” word here and there to get a laugh than it is to write a good script.
Anyone else think Sullivan and Lyndhurst have a point or do we just suffer from ‘good old days syndrome’?