If you're anything like me, your New Year's resolution should be to watch less television, but it'll probably end up being something more along the lines of, "Finally catch up on Homeland." This was the year that the world was supposed to end, a prediction that was confirmed when NBC finished the fall TV season in first place in ratings. Yet somehow, as 2012 draws to a close and a new year dawns, we're still here. Well, most of us anyway. (RIP Animal Practice: 2012-2012.) As we embark on a new year of television, let's take a moment to evaluate what could be improved upon in 2013. I've taken the liberty of compiling a list of New Year's resolutions for TV -- just some goals to aspire to in this shiny new year, including fewer monkey and mob doctors, more love for ABC's Thursday night programming, and the end of Honey Boo Boo. Here are some suggestions for how to improve television in 2013...
1. Stop airing new sitcoms whose premises feel like they're from the '90s. Guys With Kids, Partners, The Neighbors, Last Man Standing... It seems like these shows' scripts were stuck behind a desk for the past fifteen years and someone just found them and said, "Hey! Let's produce this!" I mean, did Reba really need another sitcom? Come on. If you're going to ride the wave of '90s nostalgia, do it right. Anything involving Melissa Joan Hart, Space Jam, or the upcoming Boy Meets World spin-off is a good place to start. I'm all for bringing back the earnestness and boy-bandy goodness of the '90s, but my favorite decade deserves a better tribute than this.
2. Spread the sitcom love for Tuesday nights. Three of my favorite comedies -- New Girl, Go On, and Happy Endings -- are all on Tuesdays at 9, and my DVR can only record two shows at once. Why must you make every Tuesday night a Sophie's Choice scenario for me? Would one of these three networks please try out another night, or at least another time slot? How else can everyone be expected to appreciate these three hilarious and brilliant shows?
3. Bring back Community and give it the respect it deserves. Sure, you say Community is coming back in February, but pardon me if I don't hold my breath. I guess I should just be grateful that my favorite group of dysfunctional study buddies is returning for a fourth season, even if it is without the show's creator, Dan Harmon. Now stop messing around with Community's time slot, air date, and creative team, and just let it be the amazing show we few fans have grown to love.
4. No more gimmicky doctors. We don't need any more monkey doctors, or mob doctors, or Emily Owens, MDs (OK, I actually liked that show, but still), or astronaut doctors, or whatever else you might have in store. In fact, we're good to go in terms of TV doctors right now. (Although, we did lose a fair number of them in that Grey's Anatomy plane crash... ) If you're going to try a medical drama, go for substance over novelty. And in case you're wondering, no -- Do No Harm is not what I had in mind. But best of luck with that whole Jekyll/Hyde doctor thing. I'm sure it'll be a big hit.
5. ABC, please just stop trying to air new shows on Thursdays at 8 p.m. I can't handle getting sucked into another promising new drama only to have you cancel it after eight episodes because it can't compete with The Big Bang Theory in ratings. FlashForward, The Deep End, My Generation (yes, I watched that show), and now Last Resort have all been canceled from this doomed time slot within the last two years. I can honestly say that I genuinely adored all of these shows. How much more heartbreak do you think I can take?! Either lower your expectations for that time slot, or give up and air reruns of Dancing With the Stars.
6. Please feel free to try and piggyback on the success of Downton Abbey. Seriously, I think every major network should be copying Downton Abbey right now. I know broadcast television has spent the last couple years struggling to find the next Mad Men (see: Pan Am, The Playboy Club), but I think Downton Abbey is the way to go. I'm actually surprised I haven't seen a trailer for Dr. Dowager yet. I'm very much open to the idea of other networks trying to replicate PBS' success by creating a slew of historically set melodramas to rival Masterpiece's, uh, masterpiece. I'm not saying it will work -- a historical drama of those proportions requires a big budget and the perfect cast. But it never hurts to try! (I reserve the right to criticize and mock you when this fails horribly.)
7. Stop forcing "celebrities" to compete in arbitrary competitions in order to regain their pop culture relevancy. This does not qualify as a premise for a TV show. Dancing, skating, diving, military training with the stars... this is not real entertainment. At best, it's a glorified US Weekly article. "Stars -- they're just like us... They fall down while ice-skating!" Next we'll be watching Celebrity Furniture Shopping featuring Mischa Barton, Rick Springfield, and the third Lawrence brother. This has to stop.
8. No more Honey Boo Boo. Please. I'm begging you. I don't know how this became a part of pop culture, but it's literally the most horrifying thing I can imagine. I thought Toddlers & Tiaras was the worst of humanity, but this makes me wish the world had ended in 2012.
9. While we're on the subject of reality television, how about no more exploiting the Amish people for their entertainment value? No more Breaking Amish, or Amish Mafia, or Extreme Amish Makeover. (Two of those are real shows, by the way.) I understand the appeal of examining other cultures, but this is starting to get out of hand. Before you know it, there'll be a whole season of Teen Mom devoted to pregnant Amish teens.
10. The biggest resolution for this year is this: think. Just use common sense. Before you pick up a new show, look at it really hard and think, "Is this a terrible decision?" Work It, ¡Rob!, Oh Sit!, Made in Jersey... These travesties could have been prevented if someone had just thought to ask that question. I sincerely hope that TV network executives everywhere will use better judgment in 2013.
With a new year comes a blank slate. That's the beauty of New Year's resolutions -- sure, I probably won't follow through on my vow to exercise five days a week, or to finally read Atlas Shrugged, or to stop counting Nutella as my daily serving of vegetables (hazelnuts grow from trees, okay?) but for those first few weeks of 2013, anything is possible. This could be the year that changes television forever. This could be the year they decide to bring back Veronica Mars. This could be the year Fringe finally gets an Emmy nomination. This could be the year Glee gets good again! More than likely, none of these things will happen. But the idea that they could is still pretty exciting. Welcome to a new year of television. Let's cross our fingers that it will be filled with more Rebel Wilson (seriously -- put her in everything) and devoid of Honey Boo Boos.
Follow Lelia Nebeker on Twitter: www.twitter.com/PopCultureNexus