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Goodbye 'The Mick'; Can an Edgy Network Comedy Succeed?
Last week, Fox announced the cancellation of its unconventional comedy series, The Mick. The show had just wrapped up its second season, and was expected to be renewed for a third, but lackluster ratings compelled the network to decide otherwise. It was a tough break for all of the talented individuals involved in the show, and also for its loyal fan base (which includes me).
I don't think it's an overstatement to say that viewers have truly lost one of the best comedies on television today.
The Mick wasn't just funny. It was a weekly riot — the perfect mix of brilliant writing, uproariously funny characters (star Kaitlin Olson is a modern-day bad-ass version of Lucille Ball), jaw-dropping political incorrectness, and outrageous physical comedy:
Fox has been down this road before, of course — most notably with Arrested Development. Airing from 2003 to 2006, A.D. enjoyed critical acclaim and an enthusiastic fan following, but ultimately couldn't draw a large enough audience to save it from cancellation after just two and a half seasons (and that was with Fox sticking with the series longer than they had with others). The situation was pretty remarkable, considering that Arrested Development is now revered by many as one of the greatest comedy series of all time (later spawning a clunky revival on Netflix).
These early television deaths are always particularly hard on those of us who have a really difficult time finding comedies that are genuinely funny. Comedy is hard, and most television comedies aren't all that good — even the ones that have enjoyed a fair amount of success.
My wife would probably roll her eyes at that last statement. One of the (many) things that drives her nuts about me is that I'm a very hard-sell when it comes to comedy. Though we both love to laugh, and do so often, we haven't found a lot common ground over our 16 years of marriage when it comes to this genre of television (The Mick was an exception). As someone who, as a child, howled at sitcoms like Three's Company and The Jeffersons, I rarely see that kind of quality and edge in today's network offerings.
This is hugely disappointing in an era that some refer to as the new "Golden Age of Television," where every other genre seems to have advanced by leaps and bounds.
Comedy series, however: not so much.
Again, others would disagree. My wife could watch re-runs of Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, Community, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt for hours on end, but for me, it's difficult to even be in the same room when they're on.
I'm at even deeper odds with the uber-successful comedies CBS has put out over the past decade or so, whether it be Two and a Half Men, How I Met Your Mother, or The Big Bang Theory. I honestly don't know how anybody finds these shows funny, yet — because of their success — they serve as a comedic template for a lot of the new series that arrive on the scene.
One more confession: I didn't like Friends either. Sue me.
Now, before you start hurling insults at me through the comment section, over having just slammed one of your favorite shows (a perfectly reasonable response given how people tend to internalize subjects like this), let me address some of the likely responses:
Yes, I do have a sense of humor (a healthy one).
No, the humor from these shows isn't over my head.
Believe me, I get the jokes. They're often so glaringly obvious and predictably scripted that it's impossible not to. And for me, therein lies the problem.
I like comedies that challenge the audience beyond easy one-liners, situational dilemmas, and quirky characters. I like comedies that are awkward, clumsy, and at times speechless. I like comedies that take risks and tackle cultural absurdities. I like comedies that are politically incorrect, and push people outside of their comfort zones (where some of life's most real humor exists).
Is that too much to ask for? It must be, because such shows (with the exception of The Office and some animated series) haven't been successful on any of the major networks for at least 15 years. Even newer shows with some early promise (like Modern Family) end up morphing into comfortable formula-style sitcoms with little left of their original edge.
It's kind of depressing.
The Mick was a clear deviation from the norm, and I suppose that was ultimately its undoing. And while it's possible that another network or even Netflix could pick up the show (NBC just swept up Brooklyn Nine-Nine after it was cancelled by Fox), it's pretty unlikely. Still, I would encourage fellow fans to try. Hashtags like #WeWantTheMick and #SaveTheMick have taken flight on social media, and emails, letters, and phone calls to Fox certainly wouldn't hurt.
And if all else fails, maybe the show's co-star, Scott MacArthur, would be charitable enough to occasionally post an online video of himself taking a Jimmy Shepherd-style beating (for old times' sake):
I wish everyone involved with The Mick the very best. The show featured an abundance of talent, and hopefully everyone will land on their feet. Thanks for the plentiful laughs and this unforgettable life lesson: "Always be wet."