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Terrible Sitcoms That Kept On Going

With each new sweeps season, it's become increasingly clear that the age of catchphrases, pratfalls, hokey one-liners, and applause breaks is over. Especially when it comes to the storied and marketable eyeballs of the 18 to 34 demographic. Millennials, Gen X-ers and Y-ers, and whatever other generation nicknames apply within that group have long ago abandoned the traditional three-camera, in-studio, laugh track sitcoms that defined the Must See TV era of the '90s. While much of TV comedy adapted quickly to the now ubiquitous single camera, edgier-style nonlinear narrative, like The Office, Parks and Recreation, and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, a lot of traditional sitcoms hung through the transition despite being awkwardly irrelevant in comparison. Here's a list of modern sitcoms that kept going long after the (canned) laughter died.

The Big Bang Theory (2007-)

If for no other reason—though there are plenty—The Big Bang Theory deserved to go down in flames just for introducing "Bazinga!" into the popular lexicon. Instead, the show has enjoyed explosive success over eight years and ten seasons thanks to its seemingly endless well of nerd culture references and cheap sexual entendre. Jim Parsons, who plays Sheldon, the show's most popular character, has even won the Emmy four times, which is amazing considering his entire schtick is one-note social awkwardness. This a show with a cast of characters who are supposed to be geniuses, yet it's written for the dumbest possible audience.

Two And A Half Men (2003-2015)

Before The Big Bang Theory, Chuck Lorre created Two and a Half Men, which was basically just The Odd Couple except with brothers and a kid thrown in the mix. With Lorre's signature style of dated, predictable references, and Charlie Sheen playing a watered down version of what we now know is his drug-fueled lothario self, Two and a Half Men was a show for the kind of person who goes to the same restaurant on the same day every week and orders the same dish. Yes, we get it, Charlie's great with the ladies, Alan, not so much. And the show actually got worse after Sheen publicly flipped out and got himself canned from the show. They brought in Ashton Kutcher to replace him using the most ridiculously implausible premise just to keep the formulaic joke writing intact. The ratings never fully recovered, and though the show limped on for four more seasons, we hope that the silver lining here is that it inspired Kutcher to stay away from television for good.

Mike & Molly (2010-)

Mike & Molly is a by-the-numbers blue collar sitcom that's so close to The King of Queens, it would be exactly the same if Molly was thin. Right down to Mike's African-American best friend and partner and Molly still living with an eccentric parent as an adult, this show should probably be paying Kevin James royalties. On top of that, it takes an amazing comedic actress and a great stand-up comic and forces them into the same stale "clueless man," and "comedically subjugated woman" roles as every sitcom ever. One year after the premiere of Mike & Molly, Melissa McCarthy, who plays Molly, became a breakout star in Bridesmaids, and has continued to land leading comedic film roles, which we can't help but believe is still bankrolling most of the fandom that this subpar sitcom receives.

Last Man Standing (2011-)

Hey, did you enjoy Home Improvement? Then you probably also love Last Man Standing, because it's the same show. Yes, the show's lead, Tim Allen, has three daughters instead of three sons. And yes, his job is different, but the same Tim Taylor fish-out-of water tropes and gags are all here. And here's a shocker: his wife is infinitely smarter and savvier than he is (though admittedly that's a fall back wife character for virtually every sitcom). Where Home Improvement's Tim sucked at fixing things, Last Man Standing's Max sucks at technology. Where Home Improvement featured a "show within a show" called Tool Time, Max hosts a web series for the Outdoor Man sporting goods chain that he works for. What it doesn't have is Al, Heidi, or Wilson, who were all far better characters than any of Last Man Standing's forgettable supporting cast. All we're saying is that if they were going to make such a blatant ripoff, they should have included those animated interstitials that appeared at each commercial break. We loved those when we were 10-years-old, and clearly this show is pandering to an audience with a similar IQ.

Tyler Perry's House Of Payne (2006-)

When it comes to hamfisted attempts at social commentary, there is no storyteller like Tyler Perry. The dialogue in his movies is so melodramatic it can suck the emotion out of a scene in which a character finds out their mother has cancer. On the flip side of that, his attempts at comedy are so full of threadbare stereotypes, he's still writing "Yo Momma" jokes. House of Payne is Tyler Perry's first and sadly not last attempt at a TV sitcom that takes all the hackneyed and questionable ways he's portrayed African-American families in movies and plugged them right into the standard sitcom formula. He also made the equally dreadful spinoff, Meet the Browns, which makes Joey seem like The Godfather: Part II. Perry thinks he's doing the Norman Lear thing, but he's just Chuck Lorre with an urban twist.

2 Broke Girls (2011-)

2 Broke Girls takes all of the optimism of working hard and realizing your entrepreneurial dreams, and slathers it with cheap racial stereotype jokes and of course, sexual innuendo. There is absolutely nothing relatable about either of the girls, who inexplicably, are total opposites who somehow become best friends! Sound familiar? Or how about the fact that they work in a restaurant that has ten seats and seemingly no customers ever, yet they can afford to live in Brooklyn and start their own cupcake business? Speaking of which, cupcakes? Wasn't there a more cliché dream business available, like event-planning or a food truck? This show couldn't be more derivative and predictable if these two moved to Milwaukee and got jobs in a brewery. Honestly, at this point they should just knock out the wedding episode, the baby episode, and the finale where they go their separate ways, so in the event that they get cancelled at least the sitcom circle will have been complete.

The Bill Engvall Show (2007-2009)

One of the worst in the long line of "Let's just give this comedian a show and see what happens!" sitcoms, Bill Engvall didn't even remotely try to step outside the cookie-cutter lines of established premises for his turn in primetime. Here's a brief list, and stop us if these sound at all familiar: The daughter wants to get her belly button pierced; someone gets drunk at karaoke night; the son goes to a party where alcohol is served; the dad feels upstaged by his cooler sibling, and the list goes on and on. And okay, you're probably thinking that two years is a bit of a stretch to qualify for our benchmark of "on the air forever," but The Bill Engvall Show was so terrible, we had to include it. The remarkable thing about it is that it didn't even slow the pace of these kinds of shows at all—but we will give it one accolade. It put Jennifer Lawrence in the spotlight, and we can all agree she's pretty great. Wait, you say it was her breakout dramatic performance in Winter's Bone that did that? Okay, Engvall, nevermind. You're still the worst.

Melissa And Joey (2010-)

As if it's not consistently jarring enough to see Joey Lawrence with a shaved-bald head, Melissa & Joey smashes together two beloved childhood TV memories in such an inorganic way it's like pizza-flavored soda. Joey said "Whoa!" on Blossom, and Clarissa either explained it all or was a teenage witch, depending on how old you are. That's it. That's all we needed from them, but no, network TV had to take two things that we look back fondly on and mash them up into awful garbage. Remember the G.I. Joe and Barbie Dream Wedding Playset? Of course you don't, because combining those two things would be an abomination, just like Melissa & Joey is. Its entire premise also blatantly rips off Who's The Boss and Parks and Recreation, both shows that, you're right, shouldn't even have been mentioned in such company.