Better Off Ted is all sharp edges and pointy barbs. Lots of folks have claimed that this is why it's had such a hard time grabbing, well, any audience to speak of. And that may well have something to do with it. It's not meanness, per se--Two and Half Men is far meaner, maybe the meanest sitcom ever--but it is a particular kind of cold and calculating satire. There are relationships there, there are even lessons, but those relationships and lessons are always butting up against and being consumed by a show that is on the whole distant and harsh.
That is intentional, of course. The feel of the show is the feel of the company at the heart of it. The American version of The Office dabbles in satire, but its focus is on the characters, making it a much warmer show. In Ted, the characters are secondary to the absurdity of the system. (It would, in fact, not be outrageous to say that the show's actual main character is, in fact, Veridian Dynamics.) So while in The Office little victories are celebrated, in Ted those same little victories are immediately sucked back into the system and spit back out in perverted (but hilarious!) ways. So, yeah, some people might find that a bit off-putting.
But I kind of think a bigger problem the show has is that now's not really a great time to be mocking office jobs, what with the way lots of people would kill a goat with their bare hands* for just such a job right now. It's not a coincidence that Dilbert, a comic strip that specializes in a similar type of sharp-edged satire, rose to fame during the 90s, when the economy was going swimmingly and everybody had jobs they hated. Now most people are just thankful to have a job, absurdities and all.
The Office has been better able to deal with this shift in attitudes precisely because of its heavy focus on characters. When the show started, most of the characters seemed to despise their jobs. As the show's gone along, however, we've come to see that some of them have a more nuanced outlook on their employment situation, while others have come to appreciate their jobs more. Even Jim takes his job seriously now. (Jim!) There are plenty of times the characters get frustrated, but at the same time, the office in The Office isn't such a bad place to work. And as the real world economy has worsened, the show and the characters have reflected that.
Ted's tunnel focus on office mockery doesn't really allow for that kind character-based nuance or the kind of archy-plot devices necessary to make that kind of transition. That doesn't mean it's necessarily a worse show. It just means it's a different kind of show. Possibly the kind of show that's not well-suited for this particular cultural moment.
Of course, it's also possible that nobody's watching Better Off Ted because, how did my brother put it? Ah, yes. "What the heck's Better Off Ted?"
*This is no doubt part of the Veridian Dynamics application process.