How do I trick myself into believing that my life is more like a sitcom than Noxzema commercial?


To some, this may seem like a strange request, because a laugh track would be awfully disconcerting if it followed you around, and it would be downright awkward to always sit on the same side of the table as your friends to leave room for the camera crew opposite. Or perhaps you resist because you think of yourself more as a troubled teen straight out of a mid-nineties dramedy. But let me pitch the idea of sitcom-as-way-of-life to you, in 10 words or less, and see if you don’t pick it up, at least for a season.

No problem that lasts more than 30 minutes (commercials included).

Irresistible. Plus the added perk of a wardrobe that improves exponentially as your ratings increase. And I know that your heartbeat is synchronized to the “Sanford and Son” theme song, so what have you got to lose? Well, you might just gain some comedy for your situations, and it would be simply too sad to deny yourself that.

Did you come to Yale because of “Gilmore Girls?” Of course you did. Rory Gilmore, you’re so cool (in seasons 1-4). You write for the Yale Daily News, and I do, too, so we should hang out (date). Anyway, following a fictional character to college is a good way to start your quest to attain sitcom status.

Next in your path towards self-transformation, you have two options available to you. The first is to watch sitcoms. And I mean lots of them and all the time. The theory behind this prescription is that you will internalize the witty banter, the affinity for catchphrases, the 20 or so possible plotlines and the resolution of that epic romance with the guy/girl who, thank goodness, lives across the hall.

As the sitcoms imprint themselves on your compliant consciousness, you will begin to draw parallels between your life and the lives of your tiny, televised friends. You will find that certain shows are incredibly applicable to your situation, and if you can pair up your fictional life well enough with your real one you will find yourself feeling incredibly funny and cool and worthy of primetime attention.

For instance, if you are a freshman, you should almost certainly be watching the Judd Apatow gem, “Undeclared.” You will follow Steven Karp in his pursuit of girls, friends and beer, as you yourself seek out … Well, you get it.

If you are beginning to suffer night sweats from worrying about the post-college confrontation with The Real World, you can watch such delightful shows as “Laverne and Shirley,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Three’s Company” to ease your transition into life as a working lady with an aerodynamic beret, a monogrammed sweater-clad best friend and a pesky landlord.

Don’t have time for the recommended dosage of eight hours of sitcom per night? Look up “sitcom” on Wikipedia, and you will have a foolproof formula for life. If you encounter what Wikipedia deems a “controversial issue … either a birth, a death or an otherwise traumatic experience,” don’t fret, for you are simply in the midst of one of the “very special episodes” of your sitcom/life.

As a character yourself, if the people with whom you live are beginning to distress you with their quirky habits, there’s no need to abandon them, for they are a vital part of the “ensemble cast structure.” That pants-less girl who lives next door, why she’s just “the cutesy moppet,” and that your-mom-joking guy playing beer pong in the hallway 23 hours each day (one hour spent puking in your sink) is nothing more than the “wisecracking curmudgeon.”

The all-time best use of the sitcom is as a lethal weapon in significant other hunting. Here is the way this works: You pick out a romantic show, preferably one that features a tender, blossoming relationship, and you get your special gent or lady hooked on it. Eventually you break your television (it had to be done) and propose that you watch on your laptop … in bed.

Summary: Nobody should love Raymond. Love yourself instead.

Emma Allen realizes that Gawker has a regular feature also (coincidentally!) called “The Unethicist.” But that is a TOTALLY DIFFERENT THING. That takes the questions from The New York Times Magazine’s “The Ethicist” column and provides new answers. See? Different. And besides, there is a certain appeal to writing a column called “The Unethicist” amid seemingly unethical circumstances.