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 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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