The best and worst of sitcoms starring musicians
The bad news is that Snoop Dogg is getting a sitcom, a no-doubt hackneyed affair starring the Doggfather as a patriarch with his mind on his family and his family on his mind. The even worse news is that Limp Bizkit front-penis Fred Durst is apparently getting one, too.
The show, which CBS is currently vetting, features Durst as producer and star and follows "A rock legend looking for balance between his high-profile lifestyle and trying to raise a family." The "rock legend" and "high profile" parts are not accurate, but at least the working title is: Douchebag.
Durst may be the first of the lamentable nu-metal genre to break into sitcoms, but (as evidenced by the D-O-double-G) he's not the first musician -- many before him have dabbled in laugh tracks and 22-minute high-jinks. Here are a few of the best -- and the worst -- results.
5. Method Man and Redman: Method & Red
More an unfortunate example of stifling network oversight than of musicians not capable of acting being made to act, Method & Red could have been good. Great, even. Originally, Method Man had envisioned the proceedings, which placed him and Redman as fictionalized versions of themselves in an affluent white suburb, as sort of a 'hood styled version of Arrested Development, but that was not to be. Fox sanitized it to appeal to middle America and, without warning, added a laugh track. After a bitter dispute during which Method complained that "We can't all be the Cosbys," the show was pulled off the air with four episodes still in the can.
4. Reba McEntire: Reba
There was evidently a hole in America's heart after Grace Under Fire went off the air in 1998. Luckily, the WB was there to fill America's hole in 2001 by starring washed-up country icon Reba McEntire in basically the same show. There's nothing wrong with Reba per se, and McEntire actually does a commendable job of holding things down in the lead -- it's just that it was, you know, boring. Not that, in the world of sitcoms, that really sets it apart.
3. LL Cool J: In the House
Starring LL Cool J as a football player who, due to unfortunate financial circumstance, is forced to rent part of his spacious house out to a single mother and her two children and learn various heart-warming life lessons in the process, In the House was not a good show. In fact, it was not good enough for NBC to cancel after just two seasons. Luckily, the then-newly formed UPN was there to pick up the slack, and In the House spent another three seasons there, notably adding The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's Carlton to the lineup during that time.
2. Brandy: Moesha
During the latter half of the '90s, UPN became more or less the standard-bearer for second-rate sitcoms starring former hip-hop and R&B icons, and of that subset, Moesha was the flagship. Really, nothing about Moesha is worth mentioning aside from that, if you remember UPN, you pretty much know the drill, here. It is, however, worth mentioning that Brandy is the first cousin of Snoop Dogg, so maybe crappy sitcoms just run in the blood.
Sisqó: Untitled, unaired pilot
Back in 2001, "Thong Song" creator Sisqó had an epiphany: "I just woke up one morning and was like, TV's sucking right now," he said. "I want to be on it." His quest to add to the suck led him to NBC, which green-lit a comedy starring Sisqó as a young and energetic TV star being mentored by veteran actor Bob Newhart playing himself -- yes, that Bob Newhart. Thinking about what a ridiculous mess this show could have been literally causes the mind to explode with pleasure/diarrhea, so it's probably a good thing that, although a pilot was reportedly filmed, this crazy-ass trainwreck never made it on the air.
Page down for our five best.
5. Queen Latifah: Living Single
Back in the '90s kind of world when people liked ensemble comedies that featured groups of twenty-somethings living in incredibly well-appointed Manhattan apartments, Living Single was known as "the Black Friends" -- but let's be honest: It was better than Friends. Sure, like 90 percent of big-network comedies, it was pretty corny at times, but anchored by the wearily enduring and sarcastic-sweetheart acting chops of Queen Latifah, it was a solid show -- solid enough, anyway, to spend five years nabbing top ratings among black audiences on Fox. It ended in 1998, possibly because the encroaching decade would have required a theme-song change.
4. Creed Bratton: The Office
In The Office, Creed Bratton is a drug-addled, washed-up former hippie rock musician prone to senility and bizarre, cryptic statements. In real life, Creed Bratton is a drug-addled, washed-up former hippie rock musician prone to senility and making bizarre, cryptic statements. It's one of the weirder back-stories of The Office, but it's true: Creed Bratton is played by a guy named Creed Bratton who, between 1966 and 1975, was the guitarist of notable jam-band The Grass Roots, which put out two albums certified gold and charted over twenty singles in its time. On the show, reportedly, he basically plays himself.
3. Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs: The Beverly Hillbillies
Their time as the lead members of the Foggy Mountain Boys produced arguably some of the most legendary bluegrass of all time, at least in part because their "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" provides the score for pretty much every rural car chase ever put to film. Lesser known is that they also wrote and recorded "The Ballad of Jed Clampett," the theme song of The Beverly Hillbillies, and even lesser known is that they played recurring characters. On the show, they play characters named, ahem, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, old Texas friends of Jed Clampett's who occasionally pay the Hillbilly clan a visit -- generally, a wing ding ensues.
Will Smith: The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
Will Smith is primarily known as an actor these days, but before that he had made his name -- back then he was called, you know, the Fresh Prince -- with DJ Jazzy Jeff with "Parents Just Don't Understand," the first rap song ever to win a Grammy. But that wasn't Smith's last first: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was the first sitcom ever to feature a rapper in the lead role, and it set a gold standard that no other rapper sitcom would ever be able to recapture. Plus, every single person alive knows all the words to the theme song.
1. Flight of the Conchords: Flight of the Conchords
For two glorious seasons, the "fourth most popular band in New Zealand" brought the dry, awkward snark of the music of duo Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement to a series on HBO that followed them as they tried, with no success whatsoever, to fictionally garner some American fans. Sure, the best part of the series was still the band's pitch-perfect, hilarious tunes and the hilarious montages they made to accompany them, but Clement and McKenzie did a charming job of acting in it, as well. Couple that with innovative production and the free reign to experiment, courtesy of HBO, and it all adds up to the finest, most genuinely funny musician sitcom, well, ever.
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