The ‘Modern Family’ Effect: Are Family Sitcoms Killing The ‘Friends’ Clones?

Features Writer
09.04.15 19 Comments

Happy Endings came to an unceremonious conclusion in 2013, but fans still feel the sting. Ever since Friends (itself a slight rip-off of Seinfeld) ended in 2004, networks have been trying to duplicate the formula by putting attractive singles who are gainfully employed (but never seem to actually work) into situations where they spend their time getting laid and participating in absurd hijinks. Happy Endings seemed to be its spiritual successor (with a little Seinfeldian meanness at times), and it managed to run for three seasons as a critical darling with a passionate fanbase.

In terms of post-Friends hangout shows, only How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, and the once promising New Girl  seem to have surpassed it in terms of longevity. However, it still never achieved even a fraction of Friends‘ level of success and cultural relevancy. With every new television line up, another Friends clone runs for a season or less before getting the ax. Perfect Couples, Traffic Light, Friends With Better Lives, Weird Loners… none made it to a second season.

If you look at the sitcoms that have succeeded, family comedies are once again finding comfortable homes on the major networks. Following Modern Family‘s critically and commercially successful model, shows like The Goldbergs, Black-ish, and Fresh Off The Boat are finding lasting success. And if you look at the new fall line up, a majority of the new comedies are centered around families — Dr. Ken, Grandfathered, The Grinder, and Life In Pieces. There isn’t a single new sitcom about twentysomethings making it in the city to be found.

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