Remember the days of “Murphy Brown,” “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “Home Improvement”? Is it any wonder that the 90s are considered the “golden age” of comedies? But despite the genre’s apparent death, people are actually spending MORE time watching comedies on TV today, according to a Magna Global analysis.

Here’s the rub. Take a gander at the 15 most popular comedies on TV today: “Family Guy,” “George Lopez,” “Two and a Half Men,” “Home Improvement,” “Fresh Prince,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Seinfeld,” “Family Matters,” “That ’70s Show,” “King of Queens,” “Friends,” “Andy Griffith,” “Roseanne” and “M*A*S*H.” Of those, only 2 will be on broadcast this fall, Magna said.

The agency’s research team describes the problem as twofold. First, it’s harder for a new comedy series to catch on since viewers are watching classics in droves. Why try that new sitcom when you know Seinfeld’s “Bubble Boy” ep will make you giggle?

Second, networks and studios haven’t realized that people seem to want comedies they can watch as a family, not edgy comedies (which is why even some of those edgy series that were quite good, failed), Magna said. This makes sense when you think of the rise of shows like “American Idol” and “Dancing With the Stars”—shows safe for family viewing.

 “The bulk of viewers are not looking for the next ‘Arrested Development,’ they’re looking for the next ‘Everybody Loves Raymond,’” Magna concludes.

It seems cable might be catching on to America’s desire to laugh. Anyone notice the increase in scripted cable comedy series? After picking up its first original comedy in more than a decade last year (“Rita Rocks”), Lifetime not only renewed the series but announced at its recent upfront that it’s expanding its comedy lineup with projects in development with Sherri Shepherd, Valerie Bertinelli and Cybill Shepherd. TBS has been steadily adding original comedies to its stable of sitcom classics, and even drama queen FX  is getting in on the funny with shows like “Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”

 

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