(The Internet has made TV criticism more prominent, but the kinds of shows TV critics write about—serialized dramas and single-camera comedies—are rarely the kinds of shows that become popular with a mass audience. Every week, TV Club is going to drop in on one of the top-rated programs in the nation, one that we don’t normally cover. What makes these shows popular? Should we be covering them more often? Are our preconceived notions about quality not necessarily following popularity justified, or are we jumping to conclusions? This week, Todd VanDerWerff watches the first new episode of Two And A Half Men since February and the first to star Ashton Kutcher.) Jaime Weinman, who’s one of my favorite TV critics, has always maintained that one of the big reasons Two And A Half Men grew so popular was because the storylines had actual stakes. Where other sitcoms told stories about minor domestic disputes that got blown out of proportion, Two And A Half Men told stories about rampant debauchery, depression, and families falling apart. Compared to something like Modern Family—a very popular show in its own right—the series is dealing in life and death territory. I don’t know if Weinman is right—I suspect if he is,… Read full this story
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