David dances for Patrick, Schitt's Creek

Sitcoms with No Laugh Tracks

Karin Kallmaker Favorite Things, LIFE + STYLE 0 Comments

It makes sense that three recent favorite sitcoms have one thing in common: no laugh tracks. I generally don’t like them, especially when they’re loud and kick in after every other line. Clever writing delivered with wit and panache will make me laugh without a laugh track (or studio audience) to encourage me.

My three recent faves in Department Sitcom are all laugh track free. Perhaps the freedom that comes with not trying to goose a laugh out of the viewer every 15 seconds freed up the writers to go beyond traditional sitcom territory — all three are original in concept and delivery. So original they’ve scored a rewatch more than once.

Logo for Kim's Convenience

Kim’s Convenience

Kim’s Convenience, based on a successful stage play, features immigrant Korean parents who settled in Canada and their two children. Over the years what begins as an irascible father, placating mother, spunky daughter, and estranged son, melds into a long conversation about friendship, forgiveness, faith, loyalty, reverence for old and new cultures, and claiming individuality within your community. The final episode was a lovely bow on top.

Logo for The Good Place

The Good Place

The Good Place almost didn’t catch my interest. Yet so many people whose opinion I respected raved about it, so I persevered. At the end of chapter 4 it happened – the twist that makes all four seasons worth it.

With spectacular writing, a diverse cast, and a premise that seems unsustainable, The Good Place juxtaposes screwball antics with all the big philosophical questions of human existence. Yes, it’s a comedy.

What is a moral life? What does it mean to be kind, truthful, or supportive? How are you ever sure you serve a greater good? In today’s complicated and globally interconnected world, how can we give and not take? Yes, honest, it’s a comedy.

After the past 4 years where selfishness was held up as godly, The Good Place reminded me that there are certain truths that are self-evident: we are here for each other, a rising tide lifts all boats, and love is the current that powers the world toward good. Yes, I’m not making it up – it’s a comedy.

Logo for Schitt's Creek

Schitt’s Creek

What can I add to the already stellar reviews of Schitt’s Creek? Like The Good Place I nearly didn’t make it based on the first two episodes, but again, the recommendations of others plus a pile of awards convinced me to give it a longer try. It’s episode 5 that cinched the deal. It’s not about a family of One Percenters finding small town life incomprehensible and everyone looks foolish (though that happens), it’s about what happens when life forces us to see another way and respect people who have chosen a different path.

The utterly self-absorbed Moira learns other people have lives too, including her own children. Johnny Rose goes from greasy promoter back to the kinder, better man he was when he and Moira fell for each other, when they had nothing. Alexis, so much like her mother, determined to grow old as a party girl, finds a desire to be useful to others and have pride in herself. The single saddest moment of the series is also one of the most romantic – after episode 1 who could have guessed Alexis could actually make a hard sacrifice so someone else could be happy?

And what is there to say about romance of David and Patrick, with wonderfully realized fear, risk, all the tentative steps toward each other, all the mistakes. So worth every minute. All of this wrapped up in laughter, some tears, and so much satiric wit that moments that could turn saccharine never do.

I highly recommend all three of these programs. They’re unlikely to ever leave my favorites list.

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