Five Shows I Was Shocked to Learn Are Still On

I watch a lot of TV, it’s my job, but even I can’t get around to every show and every bit of news that happens in the medium. I don’t watch commercials anymore, ever, so it’s a bit tough to realize what shows are still on the air, and what has passed on, and recently I did some homework to discover that a bunch of shows I thought had been canceled ages ago, are actually still on the air.

The problem is, quality doesn’t have to do with it. I may not watch any CSI or Law and Order installments, but I at least understand the appeal, and why those shows have lasted eons. These on the other hand? I can’t name one person I know that still watches them, and I have to wonder why exactly they’re on the air.

Desperate Housewives (Season 7)

I remember when Desperate Housewives first came out. It was a time when “MILF” was just becoming a phrase and “Cougar” wasn’t even on the horizon yet. But the show was scandalous for its time, a soap opera with higher production values and a more talented cast. There was death, sex, drama, everything a prime time hit needs

But then Grey’s Anatomy came along and stole all the Housewives’ thunder, and on their own network too! No one was talking about the ladies of Wisteria Lane anymore, it was all McDreamy and McSteamy.

Then came the invasion of the Real Housewives, which currently makes up 90% of the programming on the Bravo network today. These “real” women and their “real” drama were more entertaining, and believable than the desperate plot twists the desperate housewives had to pull to keep people entertained.

But somehow, the show survives, and even hostage taking, tornados, massive fires and a plane crash can’t break loyal fans’ spirits. Now in its seventh season, these really are some tough old broads.

Smallville (Season 10)

Every year, I’ve been saying “What? Smallville’s still on?” but in the last few I’ve forgotten about it entirely, and assumed it disappeared from the CW with a whimper.

But no, recently I realized the show is now entering its TENTH season. I gave up around season six when every episode seemed to be a new excuse for a superhero cameo, but now I learn that two of the major players, Lex Luthor and Lana Lang aren’t even around anymore, and practically the entire goddamn JLA has been assembled on the show now.

I did love this show for a long while, but I couldn’t handle the insane plot developments that the showrunners forced in to keep things “fresh.” Smallville is one of those shows that would have been perfect as a 4-season arc, focusing on Clark’s journey to become Superman, but when you get to year ten, you have to say, what the hell are they waiting for.

This is the promised last season, and I might tune in to see how it all turns out, but I cannot believe this story needed an entire decade to be told.

American Dad (Season 6)

I watched American Dad a few times, back in my youth when I still religiously tuned into Fox on Sunday nights. I liked The Simpsons, and it was cool to like Family Guy, so I thought I’d give American Dad a chance.

It was a clone of Macfarlane’s other show, with only slight character tweaks in appearance and voice. But it wasn’t nearly as funny, so I turned it off, never to return. And I never, ever heard anyone speak of it since then.

But here we are, and doing research for this post, I found that American Dad is now entering its SIXTH season. I have to wonder out loud here whether this show actually has a fan base (if you’re out there, please speak up), or if it merely survives because people are too lazy to change the channel after a show they likes ends, and one almost exactly like it comes on.

I have to wonder if the same thing will happen with the equally ill-conceived Cleaveland Show, and in five years it’ll be celebrating its sixth season, along with season 11 of American Dad.

Survivor (Season 22?)

There are a million reality shows I could put in here, but I had to go with the one that started it all. And  I cannot believe how many installments this show has been running in the last decade.

When Survivor first came out, it was a revolution. A game show but more, “reality.” The concept of trying to survive on an island is inherently cool, but the fact that this concept remained intact for TWENTY more competitions is mind boggling to me.

What are you going to see in the 22nd season that you haven’t seen in the first five? Someone betraying someone? A hot girl in a bikini? A guy walking around naked? At this point, it’s all been done, and a new remote location isn’t fundamentally going to change anything about the show.

I know this is on CBS, who believes that killing any show, no matter how tired the concept, is a mortal sin, but it’s time for Survivor to be put to bed.

Two and a Half Men (Season 8 )

This show represents the death of the modern sitcom. Now that According to Jim ended its unfunny run at last, Two and a Half Men steps up to take the reins as the three camera sitcom that must die.

Sitcom’s aren’t funny anymore, despite what too many rabid How I Met Your Mother fans would have you believe. Something snapped after Seinfeld and Friends where shows like that just don’t exist anymore. Two and a Half Men may use their laugh track, but share nothing with the genius shows that came before it.

But that doesn’t stop it from running just as long as them, and now the show is in its eighth season. Again, CBS has the propensity to produce bad shows that stick around forever, though I’m not sure if that’s better or worse than Fox’s propensity to produce good shows and kill them immediately. Some executives need to be swapped around.

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  1. The Big Bang Theory is the only three camera sitcom i still watch. But every time i watch it all i can think about is how much better it would be as a real show.

  2. is It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ a sitcom?

    it’s in it’s 6th season and still as awesome as ever. Probably because the same small team has been working on it the whole time with minimal interference from networks. Mind you that’s probably why no-one here in the UK has heard of it apart from me and why the actors will die penniless except for Mr DeVito. Still they’ll have a great body of work to look back on.

  3. hey lots of people still watch american dad! and its not a family guy clone, its not full of flashbacks and random shit like family guy, every episode has a decent storyline.

    the only thing i dont like about american dad is that they stopped joking about politics since obama won the elections

  4. @monstrinho

    Always Sunny is not a sitcom, no laugh track. I don’t know why, but laugh tracks (or laughter in general) just kill comedy now.

    Did anyone see the live 30 Rock recently where they had a live audience laughing as it was filmed? Instantly 100% less funny.

  5. I agree with you on almost all of these. Smallville promised Season 7 would be the last. I got fed up with the show when that season ended in a cliffhanger (and a really stupid one too). Apparently the actor that played Lex got fed up too because he hasn’t been on the show since.

    I never watched much of Survivor after the first couple seasons and a couple episodes when I thought the concepts were cool (tribes split by gender, race) until they turned out to not be. My fiancee is a Survivor fan so I’ve watched the last few seasons with her. From the seasons I’ve seen, and from what I’ve heard from longtime fans, last season was the best season of Survivor to date. So really it doesn’t come as much of a surprise to me that the show is still going. They keep finding new concepts for each season (this year is Old vs. Young, last year was Heroes vs. Villains from previous seasons). The key to this show is finding a couple really interesting characters that people will love, or love to hate and they’ve managed to that consistently.

  6. american dad is a way more solid cartoon than family guy. it doesnt resort to random 5 sec skits and parodies as its older brother. I still love AD, but cant stand FG anymore. Its gone full retard, “you never go full retard!” and it stopped being funny ages ago

  7. 2.5 Men is pretty popular among the “regular folk” I know, my parents and parents-in-law love it. They also don’t get a single joke on either 30 Rock or The Office. As bad as The Office has become, it’s still worlds better than ‘Men’.

    Some moderately intelligent people I know like and recommend Big Bang, I’ve been tempted to give it a try. I’m too afraid it will ruin some friendships though…

  8. american dad is and has always been a funny show with a decent plot. Family Guy is the show I can’t believe is still on .. it stopped being funny seasons ago. There are only so many “that reminds me of the time that i “-jokes that one can endure before they stop being funny.

    @Jeff – you gotta watch Big Bang. Best show ever!

  9. Um, Survivor started it all? You ARE aware that The Real World is still on, right? Currently 18 years old, since it started in 1992, but now currently on season 24. Compare that to Survivor which didn’t come out until 2000.

    Of course, neither is watchable…

  10. “Adult” cartoons sucks these days. Family Guy has been up it’s own ass with lib messages since it return. American Dad is a joke, well said. South Park has been running on auto-pilot and following their own tired formula since like season 7 now, and The Simpsons, well does anyone quite frankly give a shit (Sad statement)?

    Also, How I Met Your Mother is a good sitcom. What’s better? Mike and Molly? The Middle (ha)?

  11. Long time lurker, first time commenter. I disagree with your assessment of survivor but I guess I should not be surprised as you like Lost. I know lots of people that still watch the show and if you missed the last two seasons I recommend them as Russell was an awesome character. That is all.

  12. I know some people have mentioned this, but in my opinion American Dad has really gotten a lot better in the later seasons. I would even go as far as saying that it’s almost a dumber version of futurama.

  13. ‘American Dad!’ is underrated. It’s the smartest MacFarlane show–hell, the smartest, most consistently funny cartoon on Sunday nights. As for ‘Smallville,’ despite its shortcomings, it’s passable TV. Seasons Eight and Nine and–so far–Ten are pretty dang good. The sundry DC cameos is the tip of the iceberg.

  14. I was in the same boat with you on Smallville around season 6. It just got to be TOO MUCH.

    I stopped watching sometime in the middle of season six. Then I heard that they were going to bring Doomsday onto the series and thought ugh, that’s a stupid idea.

    However… seasons 8,9 and 10 (so far) have actually been some of the best of the entire series. They must’ve fired their entire writing staff b/c the writing is actually good… well for a tv show about comic books superheroes.

    They moved away from the “freak-of-the-week” stories and more towards season long arcs devoted to building Clark into who he will become.

    Oh… and they got rid of Lana. That’s a big one right there. It’s too bad that Lex left, but it let the writers shake the show up a bit in a good way. His presence on the show had become very limiting on where the story could go.

  15. Great list! Glad you added 2 1/2 Men…I can’t stand that show, that kid ages any more does the title change to 3 Men? That show needs to be cancelled so Charlie Sheen can go back to his drugs and hitting women in peace =p

  16. american dad is much better than family guy, family guy has no plot to an episode becasue they spend so much time doing random shit, american dad doesnt do that

  17. I pretty much agrees with everything, specially in the case of smallvile.
    About 2 and 1/2 men I don’t know how popular it is in other countries, but here in Brazil it’s very popular.

  18. I read (and concurred) on annoter website that thé thing with shows like 2 and a half men or big bang theory, is that they are too predictable and even is not bad comedy, you know where is going…

    That why I think the best show at the moment is Community, a show that really makes you pay attention to the whole environment to be able to catch all the subtle jokes it has

  19. American Dad is a lot funnier than Family Guy. It’s not as random, so instead it relies on actual gags.

    Also not sure why another commenter has a thing against Big Bang Theory. Sure the laugh track is annoying, but fortunately the gags are funny enough that you are able to ignore it for a lot of them time…

  20. i’m not sure that show + laughtrack = sitcom necessarily. i would consider american dad to be a sitcom, except i think very early on (maybe 2nd season) it surpassed family guy in funniness. for me, family guy got old and tired quite a few seasons ago, but american dad never has. if you watch american dad without the backdrop of family guy, it stands on its own and has yet to get old or tired. ridiculous, yes. boring, no.

  21. Screw all of you Family Guy haters. American Dad is Family Guy without any originality. And yeah, Family Guy does alot of random things, but it always has, and that’s part of what makes it so hilarious.

  22. Wow. Only shows on your list I dislike are Survivor, Desperate Housewives, and Smallville.

    I love American Dad and Family Guy and South Park, though the recent episodes are starting to pall, and Futurama, and even a few Simpsons episodes.

    I am quite fond of 2 1/2 Men, but not a fanatic.

  23. All those shows suck and need to die, including the ones everyone else mentioned in their comments. If it’s not 30 Rock or Community, it’s not a comedy worth watching. If it’s not Fringe, it’s not a sci-fi worth watching. And there is really just no reality show that’s worth watching.

  24. Hey, I am still watching Smallville. Agreed that they should get him flying ASAP, and into the suit for at least 5 episodes (The hinting and teasing is worse than a jailbait girl at a fratparty). Anyways, so far Season 10 has been the better of the last 2 seasons – mainly because it looks to be the end of Clarks constant whining and moping personality. Personally I like the extended DC Universe they got, especially with the JSA cameo that they did a double episode arc of.

    Mind you, there is a LOT of whining about shows these days. There are some good, fresh shows out there, but the long runners like Smallville and Supernatural have proven well worth the investment.

    Now you spoke about the death of the Sitcom. It is sad that there aren’t any real good ones left. A real TV-concept that MUST die are the “reality” TV-shows, and “talent” shows that only exist to give sociopaths with ego problems their 15 minutes and shame and humiliate every participant. They are the reason I now enjoy my tv-shows on DVD or online.

  25. American Dad is 100 times better than Family Guy. I used to love family guy, but agree it’s really gotten dull the past couple of seasons while American Dad has gotten better.
    Also Community is one of the more better sitcoms out there in my opinion. I’m sorry but I can’t stand Big Bang, I hate that Sheldon character.

  26. @ Steve

    Yeah the Simpsons hasn’t been funny in years. I thought that maybe I just grew out of it but whenever I see an older re-run I laugh my ass off. It’s just bad now. It really sullied it’s reputation for me. Futurama is still the best because it never got stale (and hopefully won’t).

  27. While I don’t watch it religiously I do have a few friends that watch American Dad pretty consistently and because of I’ve caught quite a few episodes with them I can say that American Dad is actually pretty funny. While in the beginning I will admit that it pretty much was just a rip off of Family Guy as the show progressed it changed into something else entirely. I find that American Dad has a much more sarcastic and quirky sense of humor than it’s Family Guy counterpart, and doesn’t rely on cutaway gags to get laughs. It might not be for everyone, but anyone that finds the idea of a cross dressing alien getting stoned and tripping out to a Barbara Streisand marathon on HBO might want to give this show a shot.

  28. Smallville had a rough time in the middle of its 10 year run, but 8,9 and 10 have had some of the best writing and development of the entire series. While it isn’t really ‘Smallville’ anymore, and would likely be better renamed ‘Metropolis’ it’s still one of the few Drama’s on TV that I actually enjoy watching.

    I think reality tv as a whole needs to die. I never understood the draw of shows like Survivor, American Idol, etc.

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