General notes about sit-com

Popular with producers and audiences:

  • Cheap / repeatable
  • Reusable resources
  • Controllable sets
  • Self-contained so flexible in that episodes can be shown out of sequence with usually no obvious problems
  • Length of program optimised for 3 advert breaks (US)
  • Structured and predictable (HARTLEY)
  • Easily exportable – transparent formula

Comedy zones now dominate BBC2 and C4’s schedule Mon and Fridays whereas BBC1 and ITV have had problems because of the domination of soaps. UK Gold, UK play and Paramount are able to capitalise on the persisting popularity of sit-com.


HARTLEY’S two categories:

  • Family sit-coms thrive on the conflict caused by quirkiness of a central, eccentric character or through the dysfunction or fractured family relationships.
    All present a set of representations which seem to be slightly different from our expectations of how a family should be (the dominant ideological view.)
  • Work place sit-coms thrive on the sexual tension, ‘sexual chemistry’ (HARTLEY), flirtation etc. which mean that the job takes second place.
    Taxi and M*A*S*H were targeted at a more affluent demographic than usual (SCHATZ).


TAFLINGER’S three categories:

  • Act-com
    character’s actions are abnormal against dominant views (Nick in My Family)(I Love Lucy)
  • Dom-com
    moral or emotional dilemma needing an older person’s help to resolve (Roseanne) (The Cosby Show) (Fresh Prince of Bel Air)
  • Dramedy
    deals with social issues; the beliefs and values of the characters are tested (M*A*S*H) (Scrubs)


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