The Sitcom

The Sitcom

Brett Mills
Series: TV Genres
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 194
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Sitcom
    Book Description:

    Even though sitcom has been a consistent staple of broadcasting the world over, rigorous academic work on it as a genre remains limited. This book examines sitcom as an industry in terms of production, audiences and texts, drawing on a range of examples and case studies in order to examine the genre's characteristics, social position, and pleasures. In highlighting this long-lasting and popular form of television, it offers insights into genre theory and explores how the comic aim of sitcom forms a central characteristic of the genre.Brett Mills takes a global view of sitcom, examining international examples as well as those produced by the more dominant British and American broadcasting industries, in order to explore the relationships between sitcom, nation, and identity. Sitcoms considered include Extras, My Family, Curb Your Enthusiasm, One Foot in the Grave, Peep Show, Summer Heights High, Popetown, and Friends.Key Features*Draws on original research into the television industry, incorporating interviews with sitcom writers, directors and producers*Includes research on audience responses to sitcom, with reference to offence, pleasure, and social change*Offers detailed textual analyses of a range of programmes, drawing on Humour Theory to explore the ways in which jokes and comic moments work*Outlines the future for sitcom, considering new media developments and the changing relationships between broadcasters and audiences.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-3753-9
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-23)

    The quote above comes from Simon Nye, the writer of the sitcoms Men Behaving Badly (ITV/BBC1, 1992–9), Is It Legal? (ITV/C4, 1995–8), How Do You Want Me? (BBC2, 1998–9), The Savages (BBC1, 2001), Wild West (BBC1, 2002–4), Hardware (ITV, 2003) and Carrie and Barry (BBC1, 2004–5), among others. Indeed, with Men Behaving Badly, Nye created and wrote perhaps the defining British sitcom of the 1990s, which fed into debates about social changes as it was seen to promote the lewd and childish antics of the ‘new lad’ (McEachern 1999). Many of his series have been...

  5. 2 Genre
    (pp. 24-49)

    This book – and the others which accompany it in this series – all work from an assumption that genre is a worthwhile critical tool for making sense of television. This is an approach with a long-standing tradition, for ‘genre is one of the principal ways in which audiences, producers and critics routinely classify media’ (Branston 2006: 44). To talk about different kinds of television – such as sitcoms, quiz shows, news programmes, drama series and children’s programmes – is to talk in terms of genre, carrying out the process of classification which Branston notes. This means that genre study...

  6. 3 Industry
    (pp. 50-74)

    As a stand-up comedian and writer, as well as managing director of the independent television production company Baby Cow Productions (co-established with Steve Coogan), Henry Normal has been involved in the production of series such as Human Remains (BBC2, 2000), Marion and Geoff (BBC2, 2000–3), Saxondale (BBC2, 2006–), The Mighty Boosh (BBC3, 2004–) and Gavin and Stacey (BBC3/1, 2007–). He is therefore a highly qualified and well-respected industry figure, with much experience and an impressive ability to work with new talent. Yet, in the quote above, he refers to his abilities as nothing more than a...

  7. 4 Programmes
    (pp. 75-99)

    The aim of this book is to demonstrate the variety of ways in which sitcom can be explored generically, showing how genre is a process by which the sitcom comes into being. Definitions of sitcom, as well as industrial understandings of the term, have already been explored; this chapter moves on to look at a range of programmes commonly referred to as sitcoms. In doing so, it engages in work which is perhaps the most common in genre studies: analysis of programmes. Jason Mittell notes how ‘Most analyses of genres have analyzed texts because they are the most imminent and...

  8. 5 Audiences
    (pp. 100-123)

    The notion that sitcom’s aim is to make people laugh seems so obvious as to not warrant evidence or investigation. Television comedy is repeatedly judged on its funniness, and this is an approach adopted by audiences, critics and the creative industries. The aim here is not to suggest otherwise; while academic approaches to sitcom are many and employ a range of methods with various aims, the genre is defined by its ‘comic impetus’, which has a clear relationship to audience responses to it. What shall be examined here is the effect such a generic characteristic has. While all media texts...

  9. 6 The Future
    (pp. 124-146)

    The future of the sitcom may be bleak: received wisdom is that it is a ‘dead’ genre. For example, in 2006 Channel 4 broadcast Who Killed the Sitcom?, an analysis of the genre which gave it a pretty sick bill of health and saw it as a victim of changes in broadcasting, technology and audiences. After all, the recent history of international broadcasting is usually written in terms of the rise of reality television and factual entertainment programming, for such series are cheaper to produce than scripted material, are highly flexible and can run for long periods thus ensuring audience...

  10. Appendix
    (pp. 147-150)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 151-172)
  12. Index
    (pp. 173-186)