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10/15/15

Live audition: Why the live sitcom sinks or swims with self awareness

The third season of "Undateable" aired last Friday and while the ratings were what one would consider "soft," the show is unlike most sitcoms.
You see last season "Undateable" tried its hand at a live show at the end of season two, and the reviews were strong. NBC liked the idea so much that they switched "Undateable" to a new night, Friday's, and decided the show would air live every week, not just a one off special.
The result is a well received show and strong reviews, and has helped "Undateable" differentiate itself from the other sitcoms on the air. And while the general public hasn't taken note of it as far as ratings go, those who make reviewing their profession can't help but enjoy what the show is doing.
You also have to remember that Friday night isn't exactly a prime spot for a budding show, "Undateable" also went up agains the MLB playoffs on October 10.
The initial show was, in fact, enjoyable, fun to watch and it makes matters even better that the cast is totally aware that the show is live and have fun with it (like live updates on baseball scores and giving out star Chris D'Elia's phone number, presumably, to the masses).

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The one concern about doing live TV is that the show can lose its story line, which you would think still is the most important aspect of the show.
When the actors seem more interested in making jokes together about themselves in "real life," the pretend world of sitcoms suffers immensely. Some viewers, even though the live, anything can happen concept works well, still want to see the actors portray characters and follow the path set by a slew of writers that have a clue where these stories are ultimately headed.
Watching "Undateable," you root for people to get together romantically, but then you see them completely out of character and you lose interest on how the show is written. Granted, television shows aren't real, but fans still want something beyond screwing up your lines and staring at the camera and crowd knowingly.
Think of this as what if Ross and Rachel of "Friends" weren't trying to win each other over all those years and instead just chuckled into the camera when they were about to kiss.
Certainly, that would have hindered the longevity of the show and how invested the audience would have been.
So watching "Undateable" live is more like a stand up routine rather than sitcoms as we know, and in some cases, love.

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