BOSTON (TheStreet) -- As far back as the ancient Greeks, dramatists have proposed that there are a mere seven story types that are drawn from time and time again. Aristotle and his colleagues might have done well as television producers -- except that for TV producers, seven might be too many.
As the fall season approaches, networks are once again filling their schedules with dueling, but distressingly similar, premises. Not only do many shows draw upon what has proven popular in the past; each new year seems to break down into similar themes.
Looking at the shows on tap starting in September, we noticed some common denominators that lump together shows across network boundaries.
Five of the more popular themes for the 2011-12 season we came across:
Women behaving badly
While Fox's Zooey Deschanel vehicle New Girl positions the doe-eyed actress as a goofy eccentric, other shows this season are letting the ladies be more cynical and raunchy.
Fox's I Hate My Teenage Daughter is a comedy about two moms who struggle to raise their overprivileged teenage daughters. As the network blurb farm informs us: "They have given the girls everything they asked for and everything they never had: clothes, money and self-esteem. The unintended consequence is they have created two mean girls just like the ones who tortured them years ago."
NBC has adapted talk show bad girl Chelsea Handler's book Are You There Vodka?, It's Me Chelsea into a sitcom. NBC also has Whitney, a sitcom starring the often X-rated comedy styling of Whitney Cummings, best known to many for her participation in Comedy Central celebrity roasts.
Apartment 23, on ABC, takes the "odd couple" approach to its premise of two mismatched female roommates. One of the two is a manipulative and selfish New York party girl -- think of her as the Charlie Sheen in that other network's big show about polar-opposite roomies.