And now for something completely different...

Note: If you dislike funny sitcoms, here's my alternative. You won't find much humour below. It is also significantly longer than usual posts. Enjoy!

The Apron

by Andrea Irvine 

She grabbed her apron from the high hanging hook, and wrapped it carefully around her small waist. It was embedded with large stitched on patches of comical apples doing mundane activities. She found it amusing, but her husband didn’t get it. She turned on the burner where a large frying pan rested and poured the pancake batter in the best formed circles she could make.

newspaper.jpg

Her husband sat motionless at the kitchen table, his eyes fixated on the Business section of the newspaper. “New Ways to Manage Your Equity Investments,” it read. His glasses were perched on the end of his nose, as if trying to escape his face.

The smell of the pancakes began to fill the kitchen. Some batter splattered off the pan and onto her apron, and covered one of the apple’s eyes. She quickly grabbed a damp cloth and furiously tried to rub it off. She rubbed harder, grunted, and sighed.

“Why do you wear that thing if you’re going to panic every time you get a drop of anything on it? It’s what the damned thing is for!” her husband said; his eyes still remained glued to the paper.

She threw the cloth into the sink and turned back to her cooking. She took the spatula and flipped each pancake with such force that six new splatters covered her apples. Her scrunched-up face slowly began to relax, and her forehead became increasingly moist as she turned to face him.

“Honey, do you... do you think it’s important to have full honesty in a relationship?” She stood square in front of him. “Honey?”

“Did you say something dear?”

“Could you put that paper down? I’m trying to talk to you.”

“Will you give me a minute? I only get one hour of peace every morning...” He began to quietly mumble to himself.

She exhaled loudly and went back to the pancakes. She carefully pulled them off the pan, being sure not to get any burnt edges. She knew how much he hated burnt pieces. She still hasn’t heard the end of the time that she made one side of his toast “too dark of a brown”. She piled six pancakes on his plate, and three high on her own, then placed the plates neatly on top of the decorative lace tablecloth. She poured two cups of coffee into their beige-stained mugs. She took a small bottle from the cupboard and poured a couple drops into the mug with the redder hue, and put one mug on either side of the table. She cleared her throat, but he didn’t stir. She cleared it again, this time with greater force.

He folded the top half of the paper down, revealing half of his face. “Yes?”

“Breakfast is ready.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Excuse me?”

“I don’t see any butter or syrup on the table.” He put his paper back up, licked his fingers, and turned the page. He took a sip of his coffee. “And I want none of that margarine crap you tried to give me last time.”

After pulling out the butter container and bottle of syrup from the fridge and placed them in front of her husband, she pulled out her chair and took a seat. She pulled her dry pancakes closer and proceeded to cut them into tiny, manageable pieces, but didn’t take a single bite. She took a rather large gulp of her coffee, winced, and then set it on the table.

“So, I ran into Ellen today at the grocery store,” she said as she pushed the pieces of her food around her plate with her fork, “Apparently she and Dick are getting divorced.”

“Good. I couldn’t stand the bastard.” He began gesturing with his fork. “If I had to hear him go on about his heated toilet seat one more time...”

“Well, she told me that she caught him cheating on her with her daughter’s ballet teacher. Apparently, he told her that he was working late most nights, but instead he would just be at her place, screwing for hours. Can you believe that? I mean really, how could someone lie about something like that, for so long?”

“Oh, I knew about that. He’s been fucking every blonde in the neighbourhood for the last few years.” He began shoveling large bites of pancake into his mouth.

“You knew? How come you never told me?”

“Wasn’t any of our damn business. It’s his business what he wants to tell his wife and what he wants to keep secret.”

“Doesn’t explain why you didn’t tell me. You didn’t think you could at least tell your own wife?”

“Again, it wasn’t any of our business. And it’s not like I tell you everything anyway.”

“Excuse me?”

He went back to devouring his pancakes without saying another word. She just sat there, staring at her husband with eyes wide open, her mouth slightly ajar. She didn’t know what to say.

He looked at her expression and swallowed the food he had in his mouth. “What? We’ve had this stupid fight before. Remember? I starting telling you the truth about everything and you didn’t want to hear it.”

“Because all the truths you were telling me were contradicting what you had told me years ago. I mean you could have just told me that...”

“Will you let it go?” he screamed. “You got three kids out of me, so you won anyway. Can I get back to my paper?”

She ripped the paper out his hands and gave him a piercing stare. “No. Honestly, what else haven’t you told me? I want to know.”

“You want to know? You honestly want me to outline everything I’ve never told you right here at the breakfast table?”

“Yes.” She leaned back in her chair, took a few more gulps of coffee and flattened her apron.

“Well, for one thing, you shouldn’t have bought that stupid apron.”

“You’ve never made that much of a secret...”

This was always how their fights began. He would make an offhand comment, usually about her apron. They would yell for another 45 minutes. She accused him of hating their children. He accused her of spending too much money on her hair. 

She knocked what little was left in her coffee cup over and it splattered onto his light brown work pants. She went to storm off, up to their bedroom as usual, when he reached out to stop her. He tried to grab her by her waist, but instead grabbed a handful of her apron. She was moving so determinedly and he pulled so hard, that he tore her apron in half.

“You idiot!  This apron was the one thing, the one thing, I did that you didn’t agree with, and you just had to get rid of it. But I guess you’re right. *hic* I’ll just go back to being your perfect little wife. Why don’t you get your ass out of here? You know you’d rather be at work anyway.*hic*” She ripped off the apron, threw it in the sink with the dirty cloths, and headed for the door to the living room. She briefly turned back around to her husband, looked him straight in the eye and said in her most civil tone,

“I just wanted to say that all those years that I told you I was using butter, all those years that you bragged to people about how great the butter I found was, I was actually using ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter’. That ‘margarine crap’ you hate, that’s real butter, jackass.” She wiped off her hands and walked out of the kitchen.                                                                                                      


ANDREA IRVINE

Andrea Irvine is a 23-year-old writer from Hamilton, Ontario. After completing her English degree at the University of Ottawa, she found her true passion in the Professional Writing program. Her busy schedule of homework, TV watching and attempting to cook keeps her from her love of tea and Scrabble dates.

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Walking the Walk

For the last few weeks I’ve tried to open people’s eyes to underrated sitcoms, hoping that they will find some glorious gem that they missed in the past. But I realize that these were easy for me to say - I already loved these shows. I figure it’s time for me to start walking the walk.

I might appear to enjoy all of these “bad” shows, suggesting that I don’t have standards when it comes to sitcoms. But it’s not true. There is one show that has experienced world-wide acclaim, one that is known for making its viewers fall in love with its witty humour. But it's a show that I’ve never been able to find remotely funny. You've probably heard of it. It’s called Seinfeld.

I don’t know why this show never appealed to me. Maybe it was because of the rivalry between my friends in our great Friends vs Seinfeld debate, to which I argued the former. Maybe it was always competing with a preferred show. Or maybe I just didn’t like it. It was unavoidable as a kid, as there were always episodes on TV, and I knew the basics of the show from the small clips I had taken in. I knew Jerry, George, Elaine, and of course, Kramer. I had seen the puffy shirt. I could laugh at “No Soup for You!” despite never having seen the episode. Parts of the show are engrained in our society, just not as deeply in me.

I have spent the last few days throwing myself into this show. I watched hours at a time, trying to put my preconceived notions out of my head, and experience it as if I was watching a brand new show. Luckily, I haven’t watched much with the main actors, so they weren’t type-casted for me. I managed to get through the first two seasons.

The result? I still wouldn’t put this show in my favourites. But I can’t deny that I did laugh a few times. In all, I am no longer against watching the show. From what I have gathered from friends and the internet, the show doesn’t hit its stride until later seasons. I am willing to keep watching, but only time will tell if it will crack my top 10.

If you want to know more about Jerry Seinfeld’s latest projects, check out the following video from NBC News:

My weekly recommendations:

Friends (1994-2004)

Seinfeld (1989-1998)


ANDREA IRVINE

Andrea Irvine is a 23-year-old writer from Hamilton, Ontario. After completing her English degree at the University of Ottawa, she found her true passion in the Professional Writing program. Her busy schedule of homework, TV watching and attempting to cook keeps her from her love of tea and Scrabble dates.

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Expect the Unexpected

Have you ever gone to see a movie, knowing nothing about it besides who the lead actor was? If your experience was anything like mine when watching Stranger than Fiction starring Will Ferrell, it can be quite the surprise.

As viewers, we tend to make assumptions about the movies and TV shows we watch based on which actors star in them. Would you have ever assumed that Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader would appear in a drama together? Well, it happened

In terms of sitcoms, people tend to like the familiar. They typecast actors into the roles of other characters, especially if they were particularly successful in the role. Just a few years ago, Jenna Elfman, better known as Dharma on Dharma and Greg, starred in a series called Accidentally on Purpose. It was funny and original. But she wasn’t Dharma anymore. She wasn’t a free spirit. She instead assumed the role of a successful movie reviewer and falls for a poor, young guy. It wasn’t what the viewers were used to. She was a draw for many viewers who still remembered her, but she lost a lot of them quickly.

But there is one show that I discovered a couple years ago that is probably my favourite “bad” sitcom to date. It was called Mad Love, and starred Jason Biggs (from American Pie) and Sarah Chalke (from Scrubs). It was set up as a fairy tale, but narrated by a less-than-typical romantic, Tyler Labine (from Reaper). It was about subverting these traditional fairy-tale tropes, in a humorous way.

But I think it was the wrong show for the people it initially attracted. It was not raunchy enough to be associated with American Pie. It didn’t have the same quirky humour of Scrubs. It was too mushy for the fans of Reaper. Of course, some fans managed to stick around, but that wasn’t enough to stop it from being cancelled after one season. On a cliff hanger…I’m never going to let that go.

Some people mourn Firefly. I mourn Mad Love, which almost no one will ever know.

All in all, it's best to watch a show because it interests you, not because you like one of the actors. Great actors will always make a show better, but they can’t always save it.

Check out this preview from Mad Love. And if you want, give the rest of the season a try. 

My weekly recommendations:

-        Mad Love (2011)

-        Accidentally on Purpose (2009-2010)


ANDREA IRVINE

Andrea Irvine is a 23-year-old writer from Hamilton, Ontario. After completing her English degree at the University of Ottawa, she found her true passion in the Professional Writing program. Her busy schedule of homework, TV watching and attempting to cook keeps her from her love of tea and Scrabble dates.

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Rerunning the Marathon

People always say that first impressions are important; that your original opinion is not likely to change. However, rules always have exceptions.

 You'll definitely need a lot of popcorn to get through this marathon.

You'll definitely need a lot of popcorn to get through this marathon.

For an avid TV watcher, some sitcoms are unavoidable. They play marathon upon marathon of episodes on TV, at almost any hour of the day. In my case, these marathons were always playing between getting home from school and sitting down for dinner. Shows like King of Queens, The Steve Harvey Show, Yes, Dear, and Still Standing were always on. And as a preteen, teetering between shows on the Disney Channel and the crime dramas that my parents watched, I could strike the perfect balance; adult content mixed with the goofiness of a children’s show.

The first episode you see may not be particularly funny or memorable, but you think that maybe the next one will be better, or the next one. Eventually, after investing hours into the show, it grows on you. After having the same episode show up again a few days later, it makes more sense.

A show like Yes, Dear is pretty predictable. There's the bumbling goof who never seems to be able to do anything, contrasted by the successful businessman. Throw them under the same roof, and you have a modern-day Odd Couple. In that respect, it is not original, and the same could be said about the humour. However, after watching a few episodes, you can feel its charm. You start to see the differences that it brings to the table, something that you may not have seen after one episode.

Marathons offer viewers the rare chance to grow with the characters, all in one sitting. Even better is when that marathon contains reruns of a cancelled show, which usually means that the viewer can see the show from start to finish. No more waiting two weeks for that next episode, especially if that’s two weeks for a show whose first episode you didn’t enjoy.

If you find yourself with nothing to do for a whole day, why don’t you revisit a sitcom that you stopped watching after its pilot. Maybe it will surprise you.

My weekly recommendations:

Still Standing (2002-2006)

Yes, Dear (2000-2006)


ANDREA IRVINE

Andrea Irvine is a 23-year-old writer from Hamilton, Ontario. After completing her English degree at the University of Ottawa, she found her true passion in the Professional Writing program. Her busy schedule of homework, TV watching and attempting to cook keeps her from her love of tea and Scrabble dates.

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Spinning Off

One of the leading causes of disappointment is having high expectations, and watching TV sitcoms is no exception.

Ten years ago, NBC announced that they would be producing Joey, a spin-off of Friends based around the character of Joey Tribbiani. Having grown up watching Friends, I was excited. I thought that I was right in assuming that since Joey was an enjoyable supporting character, he would be great as a lead. After the premiere episode and the rest of the subsequent seasons, I, like most of the show’s viewing audience, was thoroughly disappointed. That being said, just a few months ago, I purchased the full series on DVD and have since watched it countless times. Why my sudden shift?

I had initially made the mistake that most viewers make. I held it to the level of its root show.

While some sitcom spin-offs have achieved success in their own right (Mork and Mindy, Frasier, etc), it is not the norm. Most have been met with public disapproval and poor reviews. But does this automatically mean that they are worse shows than the ones that came before them? Of course not.

Brand-new shows have the benefit of a clean slate. The viewers know nothing about it except for what may have been shown in trailers and commercials. They have no expectations. With a spin-off, the viewer is always comparing it to the original work, whether they mean to or not.

In the example of Joey, the main complaint that my family and I had was that it wasn’t Friends. The writing wasn’t necessarily worse. The jokes were no less funny. But it just wasn’t Friends. What I failed to comprehend was the fact that it was not supposed to be Friends. It is a different show. Once I took this approach, a whole new world opened up.

I offer you a challenge. Go back to a show you watched weeks, months, or years ago that you only bothered with because it was a spin-off of a show you loved. Now, pretend it has no connection whatsoever to the other show. Pretend it is a brand-new show with new characters. I guarantee that it will be better than you remembered. I mean, could it have gotten worse?

My weekly recommendations:

Joey (2004-2006)

The King of Queens (1998-2007)


ANDREA IRVINE

Andrea Irvine is a 23-year-old writer from Hamilton, Ontario. After completing her English degree at the University of Ottawa, she found her true passion in the Professional Writing program. Her busy schedule of homework, TV watching and attempting to cook keeps her from her love of tea and Scrabble dates.

Pinterest | LinkedIn | Twitter