Sitcom shows contempt for viewers, Midwest

Friday, October 3, 2003

The word "sitcom" is shorthand for situation comedy. While no one expects the situations on these shows to mirror reality, the producers of "Married to the Kellys" (7:30 p.m., ABC) appear to be aggressively indifferent to the show's setting and its characters. Not to mention its audience.

Breckin Meyer plays Tom. He's supposed to be a novelist and an edgy New Yorker. But he looks like he was picked at random at the Gap. Tom never betrays a novelist's curiosity or insight. His house is devoid of books. Tom is married to Susan (Kiele Sanchez), who somehow convinces Tom to move to Kansas City so they can be close to her insular, smothering family.

Susan's parents, Sandy (Nancy Lenehan) and Bill (Sam Anderson), seem genuinely down-to-earth. But why Kansas City? Why not Jersey City? Or Scranton? Or Sacramento? There's nothing here to suggest that the show's creators know, or care, anything about Kansas City or any city besides Los Angeles (or Studio City). The writers' clear contempt for their audience is revealed early on, when Tom complains to Susan, "I didn't know we were moving to ... America!" Just where do they think their viewers -- or, more to the point, nonviewers -- live?

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